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Francesco Guicciardini. 

Translated from the Italian 





AU rights reserved. 


The Ricordi Politici e Civili of Francesco 
Guicciardini, from which this translation is 
made, appeared for the first time in an 
authentic form in the year 1857, being 
included in the first of the ten volumes of 
Guicciardini's miscellaneous writings pub- 
lished by the Counts Piero and Luigi 
Guicciardini under the editorship of Signor 
Giuseppe CanestrinL^ 

Signor Canestrini's collection contains 403 
Ricordi^ taken, as he informs us, in their 
original integrity from two separate manu- 
scripts, both in the author's handwriting, 
which had been preserved with the archives 

1 Opere inedite di Francesco Guicciardini illustrate 
da Giuseppe Canestrini^ e pubblicate per cura dei Conti 
Piero e Luigi Guicciardini, Firenze, 1857-67, 



of the Guicciardini family in Florence. As 
regards the first of these manuscripts, which 
supplies the Ricordi Nos. 1-22 1, we have 
no clue beyond what is afforded in the 
Ricordi themselves for ascertaining the date 
at which it was written. But the reference 
in Ricordo No. i to the Florentines having 
then for seven months withstood the attack 
of the joint armies of Pope and Emperor, and 
in No. 131 to their continued successful resist- 
ance; together with the mention in No. 171 
of Carducci, Gualterotti, Altoviti, and Giugni 
as then representing Florence in France, 
Venice, Siena, and Ferrara respectively, make 
it certain that, as far as the last-named 
number, the whole of the Ricordi contained 
in this manuscript were written between May 
and August 1530, during the siege of Flor- 
ence, and before the fall of the Republican 
Government^ The remaining fifty Ricordi 
may reasonably be assumed to have been 
written about the same time as those which 

1 At this time Guicciardini was in Rome : see note at 
page 173 to Reflection No. I. 


precede them ; at any rate, they cannot be 
assigned to an earlier date. 

The other manuscript, from which Canes- 
trini derived the Ricordi Nos. 222-403 of 
his edition, has on the first page a note in 
Guicciardini's handwriting to the effect that 
its contents had been transcribed by him in 
the beginning of the year 1528, "at a time 
when he had much leisure," from other note- 
books written before 1525.^ Farther on 
there is a second autograph entry, inserted 
between the Ricordt numbered 393 and 
394 in Canestrini's edition, intimating that 
the Reflections which follow were begun to. 
be added in April 1528.2 

It will be seen, from what has been said, 
that the first of the two manuscripts is of 
later date than the second by two years, and 

1 "Scritti innanz! al 1525 in altri qoaderni che in 
questo ; ma ridotti qui nel frincipio dell anno 1528, nel 
grandissimo ozio che avevo ; insieme con la pid parte di 
quelli che sono drieto in questo quaderoo." It is to be 
remembered that at this time the Florentine year began 
on the 25th March. 

' " Aggiunta comminciata d Aprile 152B." 


it being further obvious, on a comparison of 
the two series of Ricordi^ that most of those 
in the second are repeated, some of them 
nearly verbatim in the first, it must be taken 
that the first series is a revised and amended 
edition of the second, and that the two series 
cannot properly be regarded as forming one 
continuous work. It is therefore not a little 
surprising to find Signor Canestrini so treating 
them, and referring in his preface to the 
whole of the 403 Ricordi printed by him as 
"written consecutively and numbered con- 
tinuously by Guicciardini himself." ^ 

To remove any doubt which Signor Canes- 
trini's words might occasion, it may be men- 
tioned that on an application made on my 
behalf by my esteemed firiend Professor Pas- 
quale Villari to Count Francesco, the present 
head of the Guicciardini family, that gentle- 
man, with the most obliging courtesy, caused 
the two manuscripts to be inspected by 
his archivist, Signor Gherardi, who reports 

1 "Scritti da Guicciardini tutti di s^guito . . . e 
nomerati progressivamente."— C^. Ined,^ voL i. p. xxvii. 


them to be wholly distinct, and the series 
of Ricordi contained in each to be sepa- 
rately and independently numbered; the 
first series consisting of 221, the second 
of 182 Ricordu 

That both series should have come down 
to us is certainly a fortunate circumstance ; 
not only because several important Reflections 
not reproduced in the later manuscript are 
preserved in the earlier, but also because a 
collation of the two throws light on the 
author's method of writing, and shows how 
much care he used to clothe his thoughts in 
the fittest words. Additional interest attaches 
to the manuscript of 1528, as the probable 
source from which all the various unautho- 
rised versions of the Ricordi^ published under 
different titles towards the close of the six- 
teenth century, were taken. 

Whether Guicciardini ever contemplated 
the publication of his Ricordi seems doubtful. 
On the one hand, it may be thought that, 
save with this intention, he would not have 
given the time and pains it must have cost 


him to write, revise, alter, transcribe, and le- 
transcribe them. On the other hand, many 
private opinions are expressed in them which 
he could hardly have desired to be made 
generally known to his contemporaries. To 
himself, the chief utility of the collection 
was as a storehouse of profound reflections 
and rules of conduct, to be drawn on for the 
adornment or illustration of his other writings. 
A large number of these J^tcordi will accord- 
ingly be found reproduced in his Istcria 
d* Italia, where they give dignity and point to 
the speeches which the author, following the 
example of the Greek and Roman writers, 
assigns to well-known public men. Many of 
them reappear in the interesting Dialogue on 
the Government of Florence, in which Ber- 
nardo del Nero, Piero Capponi, Pagolantonio 
Soderini, and the author's father, Piero Guic- 
ciardini, are made the interlocutors. Others, 
again, will be found in the Considerations 
on MachiavelWs Discourses on Livy ; in the 
Speeches purporting to have been spoken on 
various occasions by Guicciardini himself; 


and in the remarkable Meditation written 
by him "during the time of the plague" at 
Finocchieto, in the year 1527, after he had 
lost his post as Governor of the province of 
Romagna. Even in his private correspon- 
dence we find the Ricordi reappearing in a 
shape easy to recognise.^ 

None of Guicciardini's writings were printed 
diuing his lifetime. When, twenty-one years 
after his death, the Istoria d^ Italia was at last 
permitted to appear, the maxims of political 
and private conduct scattered through its 
pages drew much attention. A collection of 
these was made and printed in a separate 
table by Thotnaso Porcaccht in his annotated 
edition of the Istoria^ published at Venice 
in 1574. 

In 1576 Jacopo Corbinelli^ an Italian 
gentleman who had been employed by the 
Queen Mother, Catherine de' Medici, as 

1 The Storia Fiorentina, which is believed to have been 
an early work of the author, contains fewer of these 
Reflections than any other of his writings. 

> Corbinelli is very favourably spoken of by Bayle, 
Did, Hist. vol. ii. p. 214. Amsterdam, 1740. 


instructor of her son, the young Duke of 
Anjou, now become King Henry III. of 
France, printed in Paris a volume ^ contain- 
ing 158 Reflections, most of them corre- 
sponding closely with Ricordi given in the 
Guicciardini manuscript of 1528. The diffe- 
rent order in which they stand as printed 
by Corbinelli from that in which they occur 
in the author's manuscript, is explained in a 
letter to Monsignore Pomponio Believre, in 
which Corbinelli claims credit for having 
given the work a more consecutive arrange- 
ment than it had when it came into his 
hands. Corbinelli's text is accompanied by 
notes suggesting sources whence Guicciardini 
may have derived his ideas, and references 
are supplied to parallel passages in the 

1 Fiii Consign et AwertimenH diM, Fr. Guicciardini, 
Gentilhuotno Fior, in materia di republica et diprivata^ 
nuovamentemandati in luce, Parigi» Morello, 1576. The 
words " nuovamente mandati in luce** seem to have led 
Manni into the erroneous belief that Corbinelli's book 
was a reprint of an earlier publication. See **Vita di 
Francesco Guicciardini scritta dal Sig, Domenico Maria 
Manni" printed with Pasqnali's edition of the Jstoria 
eP Italia. Venice, 1738, vol I p. za. 


Istoria d^ Italia, For assistance in this last 
labour acknowledgment is made to M. 
Isidoro Ruberti, secretary to the Papal 
Nuncio. Corbinelli, however, modestly ob- 
serves : — " In the matter of illustration much 
may still remain to be done by others 
more intelligent than I am, and who shall 
have access to a more complete copy of tkU 
hook than I possess; it being the general 
opinion that many passages therein con- 
tained have been suppressed, and these, as 
seems likely, the most important" ^ 

Although the series of Ricordt printed by 
Corbinelli corresponds so nearly with the 
Guicciardini manuscript of 1528 that there 
is good ground for believing it to have been 
taken from that source, there are yet points 

1 By ** this book** Signor Canestrini understands Cor- 
bioelli to mean the copy of the Ricordt which had 
come into his hands ; but it is also possible that he 
may have been referring to the Istoria ffltoHa, from 
which he drew his illustrations, and which, as is well 
known, was printed at first in a mutilated fomu 
Corbinelli informs us that for the first sixteen books of 
the Istoria his citations are made from the Venetian 
edition of 1562, and for the last four books from the 
edition of 1564. 


of variance. Thirty-three Ricordi of the 
1528 manuscript are wanting in Corbinelli, 
while five Ricordi given by Corbinelli are 
wanting in the manuscript of 1528, but bear 
some resemblance to Ricordi in the manu- 
script of 1530. Seven others which appear 
in CorbineUi have no counterpart in either 
manuscript^ These variations suggest the 
possibility that CorbinelU's collection may 
have been taken from a copy of the manu- 
script which Guicciardini tells us he had 
written before 1525, and from which that of 
1528 was transcribed This of course is a 
mere conjecture, which, as the manuscript in 
question has been lost, cannot be verified.^ 
It may be noticed, however, as bearing on the 
point, that in Corbinelli's Ricordo No. 64, 
which is not found in the Guicci^dini manu- 
script of 1528, and which differs substantially 
from Ricordo No. 64 of the manuscript of 

1 This will be better understood by reference to the 
Tables printed at pp. xxvii-xxxi. 

2 Signor Gherardi reports that no trace of this manu- 
script is now to be found among the Guicciardini 


1 530, reference is made to Prospero Colonna 
as though he were then living ; the inference 
being that Corbinelli copied, at second hand, 
from a manuscript written before Prosperous 
death, which took place towards the end of 
the year 1523. It may Hkewise be noted 
that while the Ricordo No. 38 of Corbinelli's 
series bears a closer resemblance in form of 
expression to Na 55 of the manuscript of 
1528 (No. 276 in Canestrini) than to No. 50 
of the manuscript of 1530, it accords with 
the latter in citing by way of illustration the 
names of Ser Giovanni da Poppi and Ser 
Bernardo da San Miniato^ instead of the single 
name of Messer Goro, given in the former. 

From whatsoever original the copy of the 
Ricordi which came into Corbinelli's hands 
was taken, there can be no doubt that it was 
made by an ignorant or careless transcriber. 
No other explanation will account for the 
errors in which the printed text abounds, 
and which not merely alter, but sometimes 
completely reverse, the meaning of what 
Guicciardini wrote. 


Soon after the appearance of CcMrbinelli's 
book, Francesco Sanscvino printed at Venice 
the first edition of his CcnceUi FoHHci^ 
dedicating his work to the Emperor Rodolph 
II., in a letter dated the 24th February 
1578. Sansovino's Concetti^ to the number 
of 803, are gathered fit)m the writings of 
thirty-six authors, whose names he gives, his 
largest debt being due to Madiiavelli and 
GuicciardinL Of the Reflections which he 
borrows from the latter, many may be identi- 
fied as taken directly fix)m the Istaria ^Italia^ 
but others agree so nearly, both in form and 
substance, with the Fii^ C^^nr^Zr of Corbinelli, 
that they may well be believed either to have 
been drawn immediately firom that source, or 
else to have been transcribed firom another 
copy of the manuscript on which Corbinelli 
had worked. 

A volume of Discourses written by the 
learned and industrious Dominican friar 
Femigio Nannini, better known as Femigi- 
Fiareniino^ on themes taken from Guicci- 
ardini's Isioria d'Halia^ and from the works 


of Other historians, was printed in Venice 
in 1582.1 Fra Remigio had died two years 
before, and the book was given to the public 
by a certain jFra Sisio, a brother of the same 
religious Order. Its chief importance is in 
containing a series of 145 of Guicciardini's 
Ricordi^ added to it by way of supplement. 
This collection is constantly, but errone- 
ously, referred to as though it had been 
made by Fra Remigio. Fra Sisto informs 
us that "the work having been left, on 
the author's death, in a very unfinished 
shape, was by his labours, and with the aid 
of literary friends, brought to its present 
form ; and that inasmuch as repeated refer- 
ences were made in it to the Consigli of 
Francesco Guicciardini, which, having been 
once only printed in France, had fallen into 
few hands, he had thought fit to print these 
along with Remigio's Discourses, in order to 
meet the wishes and reasonable curiosity of 

1 Considerazioni Civili sopra TIstoria di Francesco 
Guicciardini e di altri Istorici, trattate per modo di 
Discorso da Remigio PiorenUno, Con 145 Awertimenii 
di Francesco Guicciardini, Venezia, 1582. 


xviii PREFACE, 

the Studious, and that the author's citations 
might be rightly understood." It may be 
noted that Fra Remigio himself, when citing 
Guicciardini's Ricordi in his Discourses, 
refers to the French edition of them, and 
adopts the order and numbering for which 
Corbinelli was responsible;^ whereas Fra 
Sisto in his collection restores, to a great 
extent, the order followed by Guicciardini in 
the manuscript of 1528.2 

All the erroneous variations from the text 
of the manuscript of 1528 that we find in 
Corbinelli are reproduced in the collection 
of Fra Sisto, which is further defective as 
suppressing, for political or other reasons, 
fourteen Ricordi which Corbinelli prints. 

1 As, for example, in Consideratione I„ where he cites 
Consiglio No. 26 (a mistake for 27) secondo tordine 
d^glistampaii in Francia; " and again in Considerazione 
XII., where reference is made to Consiglio No. 138 of 
the French edition, 

8 A good Latin translation of Fra Sisto's Awertimenti, 
with the title Hypomneses Politicae Francisci Guicciar- 
dini, is given in the Speculi Aulicarum atque Politicarum 
Observationum Libelli, printed by Lazarus Zetoer, Biblio- 
pola Argentinensis, in 1599, 


All the Ricordi printed by Fra Sisto had 
already appeared in the edition of CorbinellL 
A volume entitled Froposizioni owero 
Considerazioni in materia di cose di State was 
published by Francesco Sansovino at Venice 
in 1 583. The book contains a second edition 
of his Concetti Folitici^ already noticed, to- 
gether with the Awedimenti Civili of Giovan 
Francesco Lottini,^ and the Aiwertimenti of 
Francesco Guicciardinl These last consist 
of the identical series printed in the previous 
year by Fra Sisto, and are reproduced with- 
out acknowledgment of any indebtedness to 

1 The Awedimenti Cm/» of Lottini were first printed 
at Florence in 1574, after the author's death, by his 
brother Girolamo. Lottini has 563 Awedimenti, among 
which he is said by Corbinelli to have surreptitiously 
inserted many plagiarisms from Guicciardinl. The 
charge seems to have been repeated by Fontanini 
{Biblioteca, vol. ii. p. 358, note by Apostolo Zeno) ; but, 
so far as I can find, has no foundation. The Awedi^ 
menti are stated by Lottini's brother to be *'pieni, 
polposi, e molto utili a govemanti" and Sansovino de- 
clares that *• they pleased him infinitely." To the modern 
reader they may appear somewhat dry and tedious. 

.^ Sansovino dedicates his book to the " Illustre Sig- 
nore, il Signor Guglielmo Parry, nobile Britanno/' whom 


The only other collection of Guicciardini's 

Ricordi to which special reference need 

here be made is that published by Lodovico 

Guicdardiniy son of the historian's brother 

JacopOy at Antwerp in 1585, entitled IPreceiti 

et Sententie pii^ notabili in materia di Staio 

di M. Francesco Guicciardini The volume 

contains 100 Frecetti (counsels) and 100 

Sententie (opinions), and is preceded by a 

dedicatory letter to Alessandro Famese, 

Prince of Parma and Piacenza, and Captain 

General of the Catholic King in the Low 

be praises as "endowed with singular virtues, and 
remarlcable for his acquaintance with law, history, 
polite learning, and the whole circle of the sciences ; 
who, after filling various magistracies and high offices in 
his own country, not content with the honours, popu- 
larity, and friendships to be enjoyed there, had come, 
like a new Ulysses, to study the manners and customs of 
foreign nations ; and after having seen and known many 
cities and men, had arrived at the conclusion that the 
usages and mode of government of the Italians, and. 
more especially of the Venetians, were beyond all others 
worthy of admiration as bearing a close resemblance to 
the institutions and customs of Great Britain 1 " Some 
explorer of Venetian Archives may be able to tell us who 
this nobile Britanno was. The dedicatory letter is dated 
15th April 1583. Sansovino's book was reprinted in 1588, 
1598, and 1608. 


Countries, to whom Lodovico writes: — "I 
deem it due to your Highness to present you 
with a selection from the weighty counsels 
and admirable opinions in matters of state 
which I have made from the original works 
of my uncle, M. Francesco Guicciardini." 
If this was meant as a claim to have drawn 
fresh material from these sources, it is not 
borne out by Lodovico's book. Of his 
hundred Preattiy the first seventy- eight, with 
the exception of Nos. 12 and 36, which are 
of doubtful origin, correspond closely with 
Ricordi already printed by Corbinelli, Fra 
Sisto, and Sansovino; and the same holds 
as to Nos. 81 and 100. Of the remain- 
ing twenty, no fewer than eighteen are 
plagiarised from a collection of aphorisms 
gathered from Greek, Latin, and French 
historians by the French translator of Cor- 
binelli's book.^ All or nearly all Lodovico's 

1 Plusieurs AcMs et Conseils de Fr, Guicciardini, 
tantpour les affaires dEstat que privies : avec quarante 
et deux Articles ricuellis de plusieurs Historiograpkes tant 
Grecs que Latins et Francois, Paris, 1576. The anony- 
mous translator dedicates the book to Af, de Chante- 


hundred SenUntU are extracted from the 
Istoria d* Italia. 

None of the successive editors of the 
sixteenth century, from Corbinelli down- 
wards, offers any explanation as to how he 
obtained access to Guicciardini's manuscripts 
or procured copies of them. This point Signor 
Canestrini attempts to clear up by a citation 
from an unpublished work of Giovanni 
Cinelli.1 According to Cinelli, "Messer 
Piero, son of Messer Niccolb Guicciardini,^ 
gave a copy of his grand-uncle's Awertimenti 
to Don Flavio Orsini, auditor of the Camera, 
who was afterwards Cardinal;^ and on the 
death of Messer Piero various copies of the 
work were dispersed, to the no small dis- 

cleTt €tdvoc<U en Parlemmt The dedioation is followed 
by an ode signed A, (Alain) de Laval, 

1 La Toscana letteraria, owero degli Scrittori Fior- 
entini, existing in manuscript in the National Library 
of Florence, has never been printed. 

a Messer Niccol6 Guicciardini was the son of Ltugi, 
eldest brother of the historian. Messer Piero died 
auditor of the Rota in 1567. 

* Flavio Orsini was created Cardinal by Pope Pius 
IV., who died in 156 (y 

PREFACE, xxiii 

pleasure of the Guicciardini family. One of 
these copies was printed by a Imfer of letters 
in Venice in the year 1583." By this lomr 
of letters Signor Canestrini understands Fra 
Remigio Nannini to have been meant But 
Fra Remigio, as we have seen, had died in 
1580, and was in no way responsible for the 
collection of Awertimenti which in 1582, 
not 1583, the date given by Cinelli, were 
printed by Fra Sisto as a supplement to 
his book. 

On the other hand, if by the ^Hover of letters^ 
Cinelli meant Francesco Sansovino, whose 
edition of the Awertimenti was published in 
the year he names, he stands convicted of 
ignorance in not knowing that Guicciardini's 
work had already been printed in 1576 by 
Corbinelli, and in 1582 by Fra Sisto. Much 
doubt would consequently rest on the whole 
of Cinelli's statement were it not corroborated 
from another quarter. It seems surprising 
that Signor Canestrini should have failed to 
remark that Cinelli's story, except in so far 
as it is plainly erroneous, is a literal repro- 

xxiv PREFACE. 

ducdon of a statement of the famous Maglia- 
becchi^ printed by Gamba in the fourth edition 
of his Testi di Lingua^ where he speaks of 
CorbineUi's book.^ There is nothing in- 
herently imlikely in the story as told by 
Magliabecchi, from whom we may believe 
Cinelli, his cotemporary and friend, to have 
taken it at second hand, adding to it his own 
unfortunate conjecture. The date of Cor- 
binelli's publication, and the declaration on 
his title-page that the AwertimenH had been 
*^ recently given to light^^ consist with the 

1 See note to Art. 1444, p. 428 : — " II Magliabecchi in 
un opu^colo dair ab. Mehus conservato, e pubblicato 
poi per la prima volta nel Poligrafo di Milano (N. xxxvii. 
anno 1812, c. 590), scrive: — lo ne ho due esemplari 
roanoscntti, ne' quail son molti vanetit dagli stampati. 
Messer Piero di Messer Niccold Guicciardini d^tte copia 
dei suddetti AwertimenH at Sig. Don Flavio Orsini, 
auditore delta Camera Apostolica, che fu poi cardinale : 
e dopo la morte di Messer Piero se ne sparsero copie, con 
poco soddisfazione de' Guicciardini, che gli avevano 
tenuti segretissimi, Sono aurei i detti Awertimenti; 
ma a proposito di essi diceva Jacopo Pitti che il Guicci- 
ardini faceva come il gallo, cio 6 cantava bene e ruspava 
male." It would be interesting to know what beoune 
of the two esemplari manoscritti referred to by Mag- 
liabecchi, and wherein they differed from the printed 


Statement diat copies of the Guicciardini 
manuscript were made and dispersed after 
Messer Piero's death. 

The Latin and French translations of 
Guicciardini's Ricordi have aheady been 
referred ta An English rendering of Cor- 
binelli's collection by Mrs. Emma Martin^ 
appeared in 1845, accompanied by a short 
sketch of Guicciardini's life, and illustrated 
by parallel passages from the writings of 
Machiavelli, Bacon, Pascal, Montesquieu, 
and other authors. The parallel passages 
are not always to the point ; but the transla- 
tion itself is on the whole so good, that had 
the text from which it is made been fuller 
and more faithful, a further rendering would 
have been superfluous. 

The present version follows implicitly the 
text of the Guicciardini manuscripts of 1530 

1 The Maxims of Francis Guicciardini ^ translated 
by Emma Martin, Longmans, 1845. Mrs. Martin 
died in 1851, at the age of thirty-nine. A rendering in 
English verse of Boccaccio's tale of The Falcon is 
attributed to her in the Catalogue of the British Museum 

xxvi PREFACE. 

and 1528, as printed by Signer Canestrinl 
Some notes have been added, indicating the 
correspondence between the Ricordi of the 
two series, and citing passages from other 
works of the author in which the same ideas 
occur. This last task had, so far as regards 
the Istoria d^ Italia, been already attempted 
by Corbinelli ; but the recent publication of 
Guicciardini's miscellaneous writings opens 
a much wider field of comparison. Should 
any student of Italian literature desire to 
compare the various unauthorised editions of 
the sixteenth century with the genuine text 
of the author, he will find facilities afforded 
him in the Tables herewith printed. 

For a just and profound estimate of the 
value of Guicciardini's writings, and of the 
character of the man, the reader will turn 
to the chapters in Professor Villari's woi:lc 
on Machiavtlli and his Times, in which the 
merits of the two great Italian writers are 
weighed and contrasted. 

Table A. 

Showing the correspcndence of the Ricordi 
printed by Corbinelli^ Fra SistOy Sansovino^ 
and Lodovico Guicciardini with those con- 
tained in the MS, of 1 528, printed by Signor 


1 - 















1 '- 
1 • 










74 • 




46 . 




J3 • 




»3x • 








































85 X 






















Table A {conlintud). 






















































































































































300 1 

















































































































































































Table A (continued). 































































































































































































































































































Table B. 

Ricordi printed by Corbinelli^ Fra SistOy Sanso- 
vinoy andLodovico Guicciardini^resemblingy 
but not identical withy Ricordi contained in 
the Guicciardini MS. of i^o printed by 
Signor Canestrini. 




















Chaoi^es in methods of war. 




j Private men caonot judge the actions of 
( princes. 

J Why men feel misgivings after they have 
( resolved. 








r Unhappiness to be bom when your conn* 
( try IS declining. 


107 134 


f How to gam support from others for 
( measiiresof your own. 


Table C. 

RicorcU printed by Corbinelli^ Fra Sisto^ Sanso- 
vino, and Lodovico Guicciardini which are 
not found in either of the Guicciardini 
MSS, printed by Canestrini, 













/Prin«es not more their own masters than 
\ other men. 

f No course so absurd that it may not find 
( favour with some one. 
( When a friend asks you to aid him to effect 
•j some end, don't begin by pointing out diffi- 
( culties. 

Of counsel and counsellors. 

How a prince might discredit the astrologers. 

Do not act on first advices. 


What the devout tell us of him that hath faith 
accomplishing great things, and, in the words 
of Scripture, removing mountains, rests upon 
this, that faith breeds obstinacy. For faith is 
no more than to believe firmly and almost with 
certainty things not in themselves reasonable ; 
or if reasonable, to believe them more implicitly 
than reason warrants. He therefore that has 
faith becomes stubborn in his belief, and goes 
on his way resolute and intrepid, contemning 
difficulties and dangers, and ready to suffer 
every extremity. Whence it happens that ^s 
the things of this world are subject to infinite 
changes and chances, in the course of evenis i.^ 
imlooked-for help may come in many ways i 
to him who has obstinately persevered ; which / 
perseverance being the result of faith, it may! 
well be said that whoso hath faith will 




accompK^ great things. Whereof we have at 
die present 'hour signal instance in this stub- 
bornness of the Florentines ; who having, con- 
trary to all human reason, set themselves to 
await the joint attack of Pope and Emperor, 
without hope of aid from others, disunited 
among themselves, and encompassed by diffi- 
culties on every side, have for seven months 
withstood behind their walls the assaults of 
armies against whom it seemed impossible they 
could hold out for as many days ; nay, have 
brought things to such a point that whereas 
at first all deemed them lost, were they now to 

I conquer, none would be surprised. And this 
stubbornness of theirs is mainly due to the 
belief that, as Friar Girolamo of Ferrara told 
them in his sermons, they cannot be destroyed. 

I In sending forth ambassadors to treat with 
foreign coiuts, certain princes will freely make 
known to them their secret mind and the ends 
their negotiations are meant to serve. Others, 
again, judge it better only to impart what they 
would have the foreign prince persuaded of, 
thinking they can hardly deceive him unless 
they first deceive the ambassador who is to be 
the instrument and agent for treating with him. 



Something is to be said in favour of both these 
methods ; for on the one hand the ambassador 
who knows that his own prince is seeking to 
deceive the other, can scarcely be expected to 
speak or act with the same bddness, finnness, 
or efficacy he would use if he believed the 
negotiations to be meant honestly and in good 
faith. Nay, unless he so believes, he may 
readily, whether from spite or levity, let his 
master's designs be seen through ; which he 
could not do were he ignorant of them. On 
the other hand, when the negotiations are 
only feigned, the ambassador who thinks them 
seriously meant will often go further than the 
necessity of the case requires, and imagining his 
prince to be really anxious to gain a certain end, 
will act with less wariness and circumspection 
in the conduct of the affair than he would have 
used had he been informed of its true bearing. 
And since it is well nigh impossible to give an 
ambassador such precise instructions as will 
guide him in every emergency, it must be left 
to his discretion to show him how he may best 
forward the general object of his mission ; but 
he who has not full knowledge of its nature 
cannot do this, and in consequence may fall 
into niunberless mistakes. 



My own opinion is that the prince who has 
discreet and honest ambassadors, and such as 
are well affected towards him, and so well cared 
for by him that they have no motive to look 
elsewhere, will do better to open his mind to 
r" them fully ; but that tmless sure of their being 
^ of this sort, his safest plan is not to take them 
altogether into his confidence, but let the im- 
pressions he conveys to them be the ground 
they are to go on in persuading the foreign 

3 Experience shows us that princes, and even 
great princes, have much ado to find competent 
ministers. None will wonder that this should 
happen where the prince is too dull to know 
men, or too niggardly to reward them ; but that 
it should happen with a prince who is free from 
both defects seems truly astonishing, when we 
consider how many there are of all ranks who 
desire to serve him, and the means he has at his 
disposal for requiting them. And yet to one 
who looks deeper into the matter it ought not 
to appear so strange. For the minister of a 
prince, I mean one who has to serve him in 
affairs of moment, must not only be of great 
capacity, and such men are rare, but must also 



be of sterling honesty, a qualification perhaps 
even rarer than the other. And if we do not 
readily find men possessed of either of these 
qualities separately, how much harder must it 
be to find men in whom both are united ? 

This difficulty should determine a prudent 
prince (that he may not have to think from day 
to day of all that has to be done), to make pro- 
vision beforehand, choosing certain untrained 
men, whom, by proving them in one employ- 
ment and another, he may accustom to his re- 
quirements, while by his bounty towards them 
he binds them to his interests. For though it 
be difficult for him on a sudden to find trained 
men of the sort indicated, he may reasonably 
hope in time to train them. It is well seen that 
secular princes, when they use due diligence, 
are better supplied with ministers than the 
Popes are, since more respect is paid to a secu- 
lar prince, and greater hope is entertained of 
remaining long in his service. For, commonly 
speaking, the secular prince lives longer than 
the Pope, and is followed by a successor who is 
almost identical with him, and who can readily 
trust those servants who have been employed 
or who have begun to be employed by his pre- 
decessor. Add to this that from the ministers 



of a secular prince being likewise his subjects, 
or at any rate drawing their income from sources 
within his control, they have always reason to 
fear and reverence both him and his successors. 
The same does not hold in the case of the 
Popes, who being as a rule short-lived, have 
little time to train new servants, and not the 
same ground for trusting the servants of their 
predecessors, these being for the most part 
natives of countries independent of the Papacy, 
whose emoluments come from benefices not 
under the control of their master or his suc- 
cessors, and who, as they neither fear the new 
Pope nor hope to be continued in his service, 
are less likely to be zealous and faithful than 
those who serve a secular sovereign. 

4 If princes, when all goes well with them, make 
littie account of their servants, and slight them 
or set them aside out of the merest caprice, how 
can they be displeased or complain if their ser- 
vants, so long as they fail not in any duty of 
fidelity or honour, leave them, and accept other 
more profitable employment ? 

5 Were men as discreet or as gratefiil as they 
should be, it were the duty of a master on every 



occasion that offered to confer what benefits he 
could upon his servants. But since experience 
shows, and I have found it so myself in my own 
household, that so soon as servants have filled 
their pockets, or means fail their master to con- 
tinue those benefits he conferred at first, they 
leave him in the lurch, the master who attends 
to his own interest must needs be somewhat 
near in his dealings with them, and incline more 
to parsimony than to liberality, working upon 
them rather by exciting than by satisfying their 
hopes. But that this method may succeed, it 
is essential that now and again the master be 
lavishly bountiful to some one of his servants. 
This will suffice ; because, as it is our nature 
to be more moved by hope than fear, the ex- \ 
ample of one whom we see abundantly rewarded I 
cheers and encourages us far more than the I 
sight of many who have not been well treated 
disquiets us. 

6 To pronounce absolutely, categorically, and, 
as it were, by the card, concerning the things 
of this world, were a great mistake ; for nearly 
all of them are marked by some singularity or 
exceptional quality due to difference in their 
circumstances, making it in^)ossible to refer 



I them all to the same standard. These diffe- 
I rences and distinctions will not be found set 
( forth in books, but must be taught by discre- 

7 Take heed that in your talk you never need- 
lessly say what, being repeated to others, may 
cause them offence. For often at unlooked-for 
times and in unforeseen ways sayings of this sort 
will do you much hurt Take good heed, I tell 
you, for many men, aye, and prudent men too, 
are gr^ilty of this error, and it is difficult to 
refrain from it But if the difficulty be great, 
so much greater is the gain to him who knows 
to overcome it. 

8 Should necessity or anger move you to speak 
sharply to any man, at least be careful to say 
what shall offend him only. For instance, if 
you would taunt a man, do not vilify his country, 
his family, or his kinsfolk : since it were great 
folly, when your purpose is to vex one man only, 
to incur the resentment of many. 

9 Read these maxims often and ponder them 
well ; for though it be easier to understand them 
and to recognise their truth than to observe 



them, this too will grow less difficult if you 
make it your habit to keep them fresh in your 

^10 Let no one trust so entirely to natural pru- 
dence as to persuade himself that it will suffice 
to g^ide him without help from experience. 
For there is no man, however prudent, who has 
been employed in affairs, but has had cause 
to know that experience leads us to many re- 
sults we never could have reached by the force 
of natural intelligence only. 

1 1 Though many prove thankless, be not there- 
fore deterred from conferring benefits. For 
not only is beneficence in itself a noble quality, 
and almost divine, but it may likewise happen J 
that while you practise it you shall meet with 
some one so gratefiil that he atones for all the 
ingratitude of others. 

•' 12 The same or similar proverbs, though diffe- 
rently expressed, are found among all nations. 
And this because these spring from experience 
or from the observation of things, which are 
everywhere the same or similar. 

13 Whoso would know what are the thoughts of 



tyrants, let him read Cornelius Tacitus, where 
he relates the last conversation which the dying 
Augustus had with Tiberius. 

14 Since there is nothing so well worth having 
as friends, never lose a chance to make them. 

^ For men are brought into constant contact 
^ with one another, and friends help and foes 

hinder at times and in places where you least 

expect it. 

15 Like other men, I have sought honours and 
preferment, and often have obtained them be- 
yond my wishes or hopes. Yet never have I 

N found in them that content which I had figured 
beforehand in my mind. A strong reason, if 
we well consider it, why we should disencumber 
ourselves of vain desires. 

1 6 Greatness and honours are sought after by 
all, because whatsoever is good or ftiir in them 
lies on the surface and is seen at a glance, 
whereas the anxiety and weariness, the fatigues 
and risks that attend them, are unseen and 
hidden. But were the evil inherent in them as 
patent as the good, we should have no motive 
to desire them save this only, that the more men 



are feared, reverenced, and honoured, the nearer r 
they seem to approach, and, as it were, to re- 1 
semble God, to whose likeness who would notr 
wish to attain ? 

/ 17 Pay no heed to those who tell you that they 
have relinquished place and power of their 
own accord, and from their love of quiet. For 
almost always they have been brought to this 
retirement by their insufficiency and against 
their will. And we see from experience that 
if the narrowest opening offer for a return to 
their former mode of life, nearly all of them, 
forsaking their so much-prized tranquillity, throw 
themselves into it as eagerly as fire rushes upon 
dry or resinous fuel 

18 Cornelius Tacitus gives very sensible advice 
to those who live under tyrants as to how 
they should govern and comport themselves ; 
while at the same time he teaches tyrants 
the methods whereby they may establish their 

19 Conspiracies, since they cannot be engaged 
in without the fellowship of others, are for that 
reason most perilous ; for as most men are 



either fools or knaves, we run excessive risk in 
making such folk our companions. 

\^ 20 Nothing is so dangerous to the success of 
a conspiracy as an over-anxiety to make sure 
work. For whosoever seeks this, must admit 
many to his confidence, must take time and 
wait occasion, all of which precautions give 
room for the plot being discovered. Hence you 
may gather how great are the perils of con- 
/^ spiracy, since the measures which in other 
cases ensure safety here only bring danger. 
Another reason for this I think may be, that 
Fortune, who has much to say in these matters, 
is displeased with him who labours too strenu- 
ously to withdraw them from her control. 

21 I have repeatedly both said and written that 
in the year '27 the Medici lost the government 
of Florence from having in many particulars 
conformed to the methods of free institutions, 
and that I feared the people might lose their 
freedom by conforming to the methods of a 
despotism. For which two conclusions my 
reasons are that the rule of the Medici, being 
odious to the majority of the citizens, if it was 
to be maintained at all, needed for its support 


a body of attached adherents, that is to say, of 
men who, while deriving great advantages from 
the government, were at the same time aware 
that should the Medici be driven from Florence, 
their own overthrow and expulsion must follow. 
No such support, however, could be looked for ^ 
under the system followed by the Medici, who, 
opening a wide door to civil honours and pre- 
ferments, would concede scarcely any privilege or 
exceptional favour to their friends, took no step 
to strengthen themselves by family alliances, 
and made it their aim to seem impartial to alL 

Had theymanaged every one of these matters 
in a directly ccmtrary way, they would doubtless 
have incurred great obloquy, and even then 
might have fstiled in laying a partisan foun- 
dation for their government. But in seeking 
to satisfy the whole community, it was impos- 
sible for them to succeed. For the desire to 
revert to the Great Council was so rooted in the 
hearts of the people, that no kindness, clemency, 
or indulgence on the part of the Medici could 
have removed it; while the friends of that 
family, though content to be governed by them, 
were yet not so devoted to their government 
as to be willing to incur danger to maintain 
it ; but hoping by prudent behavour to save 



themselves, as they had done in the year '94, 
were disposed, if a crisis came, rather to let the 
flood take its course than to withstand it. 

But in Florence a popular government must 
follow the directly opposite course. For, being 
held in universal £civour, and not being an 
engine guided by one or by a few to a single 
definite end, but every day altering its direction 
by reason of the number and ignorance of those 
who share in its management, it must to main- 
tain itself preserve the general good-will, and 
as far as possible avoid divisions among the 
citizens ; for these, unless a stop can be put to 
them, will open up a way to revolution. In 
short, it must take its stand upon justice and 
equality, on which as the security of all will 
depend, all as a rule will be satisfied. In this 
way the maintenance of the popular govern- 
ment will rest not upon a few partisans whom 
the ruler is unable to control, but on number- 
less friends. To govern upon other principles 
for any length of time were impossible without 
passing from the popular to some different form 
of government ; and this would not be to pre- 
serve liberty, but to destroy it 

22 How often do we hear it said, had this been 




done or that left undone, this or the other 
result would have followed. And yet, were it 
possible to test these opinions, we should find 
them falsa 

23 Things future are so deceptive and subject to 
so many accidents, that even truly wise men 
conmionly make mistakes concerning them; 
of whose forecasts were any one to take note, 
especially with regard to particular events, for 
in their general conclusions they are less apt 
to be misled, he would find them as much out 
in their reckoning as others who are thought 
to be less discerning. Hence to relinquish a 
present good through apprehension of a future 
evil is in most instances unwise, unless the evil 
be very certain and near, or far exceed the good 
in degree. Otherwise, from a fear which may 
afterwards turn out groundless, you lose the 
good that lay within your grasp. 

24 There is nothing so fleeting as the memory 
of benefits received. Count more, therefore, 
on those who are so circumstanced that they 
cannot fail you than on those to whom you 
have done kindness. For often the latter will 
either forget the benefit rendered them, or 



think it less than in truth it was, or no more 
than they had a right to expect 

25 Be careful how you do one man a pleasure 
which must needs occasion equal displeasure 
in another. For he who is thus slighted will 
not forget, but will think the offence to him- 
self the greater in that another profits by it ; 
while he who receives the pleasure will either 
not remember it, or will consider the favour 
done him less than it really was. So that, 
assuming other conditions equal, you lose in 
this way fer more than you gain. 

26 We should set far greater store on things 
real and substantial than on ceremonies. And 
yet it is past belief to how great a degree cour- 
teous manners and pleasing words influence 
every one. And this because ail think they 
deserve to be much esteemed, and in con- 
sequence feel hurt if they find you withhold- 
ing that deference which they are persuaded 
is their due. 

27 Your best and surest safeguard against one 
whom you suspect is in things being so ordered 
that he cannot hurt you if he would. For such 



security as depends on the good-will or reason- 
ableness of others is little to be reckoned upon, 
seeing how little fidelity or goodness we find 
among men. 

•^28 I know no man who feels deeper disgust than j 
I do at the ambition, avarice, and profligacy of 
the priesthood, as well because every one of 
these vices is odious in itself, as because each 
of them separately and all of them together 
are utterly abhorrent in men making pro- 
fession of a life dedicated to God. Besides 
which, these vices are by nature so contrary 
to one another, that they can coexist only in 
some monstrous subject And yet the position 
I have filled under several Popes has obliged 
me for personal reasons to desire their great- 
ness. But for this I should have loved Martin 
Luther as myself: not that I would be loosed 
from the laws prescribed by the Christian reli- 
gion as commonly interpreted and understood, 
but because I long to see this pack of scoun- 
drels brought within due bounds, that is to 
say, purged of their vices or stripped of their 

29 I have often said, and still maintain, that it 

has been a heavier task for the Florentines to 




acqiure die UMrrow tenitones they possess than 
for die Venetdsns to gain their far wider dotni- 
9io»s. F<»r the Florentine being i^aced in a 
country wherein were many free stam not easy 
to subdue, have had hard work to make, and 
no less hard to keep their conquests. Besides 
which, they have in the Church a powerful and 
never-dying neighbour, who, if sometimes she 
be in straits, in the end reasserts her rights with 
unabated vigour. Venice, on the contrary, has 
spread her victories over countries which, being 
used to servitude, were stubborn neither to resist 
nor to rebel ; and her neighbours have been 
secular princes, whose lives and memory soon 
pass away. 

30 Whoso well considers it will scarce deny that 
in human affairs Fortime rules supreme. For 
every hour we find the most momentous results 
springing from such fortuitous causes as it was 
not within the power of man either to foresee 
or to escape. And though discernment and 
vigilance may temper many things, they cannot 
do so unhelped, but stand always in need of 
favourable Fortune. 

31 Even those vdio, ascribing all to prudence 




and capacity, exclude, so far as they can, tbe 
influence oi Fortune, must needs admit that 
much turns on your happenisig iq><»i or being 
bom at a time wherein the virtues or qualities 
on which you value yourself are in request 
As to this we have instance in Fabius Maximus, 
who having to condu<^ a war wherein hardihood 
had been hurtful while delay was advantageous, 
won great renown through his procrastinating 
temper. At another time the contrary might 
have been the case ; so that his good fortune 
lay in this, that the times in which he lived 
demanded the qualities he had. But could a 
man change his nature to suit the circumstances 
of the times, which were difficult indeed, if not 
impossible, so much the less would he be under 
the control of Fortune. 

32 Ambition is not in itself an evil ; nor is he to 
be condemned whose spirit prompts him to seek 
fame by worthy and honoiu'able ways. Nay, 
it is by men like this that noble and lofiy 
actions are achieved^ whereas he who is not 
touched by the passion for fame is a frigid soul, 
more disposed for ease than effort But hateful 
and pernicious is that ambition which makes 
self-aggrandisement its sole end and aim, as^ 


we find most princes do, who, with this for 
their goal, and to clear the path that leads to 
it, put aside conscience, honour, humanity, and 
all else that is good. 

33 There is a proverb that ill-gotten gains are 
never transmitted to a tj^ird inheritor. Were 
this because their origin is tainted, it might seem 
that he who first acquired them dishonestly had 
still less title to enjoy them. My father once 
told me that St. Augustine explained the reason 
to be this, that no man is found so depraved as 
not sometimes to do a good action, and that 
God, who never leaves good unrewarded or 
wickedness unpunished, permits him, in requi- 
tal for whatsoever he has done worthily, to have 
this enjoyment here, that hereafter, in the world 
to come. He may chastise him abundantly for 
his misdeeds ; and yet, forasmuch as wealth un- 
justly gained must be purged, it is not permitted 
to pass beyond the second heir. To this I 
answered, that I knew not whether the saying 
was in itself true, since many instances to the 
contrary might be shown ; but assuming it true, 
it might be explained on other grounds. For 
the ordinary vicissitudes in human affairs will 
of themselves bring poverty where riches have 



been, and oftener to the heir than to the 
founder, since the longer the time allowed, the 
likelier the change to come. Besides, it is the 
man who acquires a thing that most delights in 
it, and as he knew how to gain it, knows also 
how to keep it, and being used to live frugally, 
. does not waste it. But his heirs, not setting the 
same store on what they find ready to their 
hand and have had no trouble in getting, and 
being brought up as wealthy men, and taught 
none of these arts whereby cometh increase, 
little wonder if from ill-husbandry or lavish 
spending they suffer their patrimony to slip 
through their fingers. 

34 All things destined to perish, not by suddenfl 
violence, but by a gradual wasting and natural 
decay, have a far longer term allowed them 
than at first sight would be supposed. Of this 
we have example in the hectic patient, who, 
after his case has been pronounced hopeless, 
will sometimes linger on, not for days only, but 
even for weeks and months. So likewise in the 
city which has had to be reduced by blockade, 
the unconstuned stores are constantly in excess 
of what all had reckoned them to be. 

35 How wide the difference between theory and 



practice, and how many there are who, with 
abundant knowledge, remember not or know 
not how to tiuii it to account ! To such men 
their knowledge i» useless, beingr Kkc a treasure 
kept shot up in a chest on terms that it shall 
not be drawn upon. 

36 If you would have the good-will of all men, 
I take heed that, when aught is asked of you, you 
I refuse it not point-blank, but answer by gene- 
ralities. For it may chance that he who makes 
the request shall not afterwards stand in need 
of yoiu* help, or that circumstances shall arise 
which will afford you abundant excuse for with- 
holdmg it Moreover, many men are so simj^e, 
and suffer themselves? so readily to be looled 
with words, that often, even without doing what 
you have no mind or power to do, you may 
contrive by a smooth answer to leave a person 
contented, wbo^ had you denied him at the first, 
would have been displeased with yon whatever 
turn events had taken. 

37 Always deny boldly what you would not have 
I known, and affirm what you would have believed. 
I For even though there be many prooftr and 



almost Sk certaanty to the contrary, a caa&dknt 
assertion or denial will often perpl«x and piuale 
the brains of him who hears you. ' 

38 It is a much harder matter for the hoioe of 
the Medici, powerful as it now is and accredited 
by two Popedoms^ to retain its ascendancy in 
Florence, than it was for Cosimo, though only 
a private citizen. For he^ besides bis extra- 
ordinary ability^ was fiivoured by the circum- 
stances of the times in which he lived, when 
his stq>remacy could be meuntained with the 
support of a few without incurring the dis- 
pleasare of the many, who^ as yet were unfamiliar 
vnth freedom ; nay, when e^ery fend among the 
great, and every civil conmodott gave of^ior- 
timity to men d the moddle and kmer ranks 
to better their condition. But now that the 
people have tasted the sweets of the Great 
Council, we hear no longer of the government 
being seKced on or retained by some fova^ (mt six, 
or ten, or twenty citizens^ bat of its being held 
by the entire community, who have this safe- 
guard of tt^ freedom so much at heart, that 
it were hopeless to turn thess from it by any 
blandishment^ or axiy excellence of government, 
ev any recogakknt of popular rights to which 



either the Medici or any other powerful citizens 
could resort, 

39 The good qualities of his children made my 
father be regarded in his day as the most for- 
tunate father in Florence. Yet have I often 
thought that, taking all into account, the anxiety 
he had from us was greater than the solace. 
Think then how it must be with him whose sons 
are foolish, perverse, or depraved. 

40 It is a great matter to be in authority over 
others ; for authority, if it be rightly used, will 
make you feared beyond your actual resources. 

(2 Because your subjects, not knowing how far 
these reach, will be more disposed to give way 
than to make trial whether or no you can do 
what you threaten. 

41 Were all men wise and good, it were fit that 
he who exercises rightful authority over others 
should be gentle rather than severe. But since 
most men are wanting either in wisdom or 

^ goodness, the ruler should build more on 
severity. And he mistakes who thinks other- 
wise. I grant, indeed, that a ruler who knew 
how to blend and temper the one quality with 



the other might bring about an accord and 
harmony than which nothing could be more 
pleasing. But skill to effect this is a grace 
which Heaven concedes to few, perhaps to 

42. Think less of gaining good- will than of main-/ 
taining a good reputation. For losing reputa- 
tion, you lose good-will, in room whereof comes 
contempt But he who maintains his reputation 
shall never lack friends or favour. 

43 I have noticed in my governments, that in 
respect of many matters I desired to bring about, 
such as reconciliations, civil accords, and the 
like, it was advantageous, before moving in them 
myself, to allow both sides to discuss them and 
debate over them at great length. For in the 
end, out of weariness, they would join in en- 
treating me to adjust their differences. Thus 
appealed to, I could accomplish with credit, and 
without impeachment of obtrusiveness, what at 
first I should have attempted in vain. 

44 Since a name for goodness will help you ihl 
numberless ways, do all you can to seem good. I 
But since false appearances are never lasting, 




you can hardly succeed in seeming good for 
long, iBiless you bo so in reality. I Ittd Onn 
admonition from my father^ 

45 The same, in praising frugality, was wont to 
say, "A ducat in your purse gives you more 
credit than ten spent*^ 

46 In my governments I never took ddiglrt in 
cruelty or in excessive puni^ments ; nor do I 
think them needed. For save in certain cases 
where an example has to be made, you may re- 
mit a fourth of the penaky and yet be a terror 
to evil-doers ;^ provided always that no offender 
is suffered to escape. 

47 Learning grafted on a weak intellect, if it does 
not injure, will certainly not improve it ; super- 
added to natural parts, it makes men peifect 
and almost divine. 


States cannot be established or maincaiiied 
by conforming to the moral law. For if yo« 
look to their beginnings, all will be seen to have 
had their origin in violence ; save only the 
authority of commonwealths within ^ Kmits ef 
their own territory, and not beyond. Nordo^ I 



except the Emperor himself from this rule, an<i1 
still less the prints, wbkh last use a twofold vio- | 
knee against us, constraining us at once with j 
weapons spiritiml and temporaL 

49 Impart to none what you would not have all 
know. For men are moved to tattle by various 
causes— some throtigh f(^y, some for gain, some 
from an empty desire to be thought knowing. 
And if you have needlessly divulged yonr secret 
to another, you need not be surprised if that 
other, having les» reason ibaat you to be silent, 
pass it on. 

50 Labour not to effect changes whidl do not 
remove the grievances under which you. suffer, 
but merely substitute one oppressor for anodMr. 
For changes oi this sort only leave you wbere 
you were. For example, what profits it to have 
banished John of Poppi from, the service of the 
Medici, if Bernard of S. Miniato, a person of 
like character and condition, enter in his xoom ? 

51 Any man who takes upon him to introduce 
changes into the government of Ftorence, 
unless be be comstrained tiiereto by necessity 
or happen to be at die head of affairs, lacks 




wisdom. For if he fail, he perils his life and 
all he has ; while if he succeeds, he secures for 
himself only a small share of the advantages 
he expected. But what folly it were to play 
at a game in which what you may win is as 
^ nothing to what you may lose I Besides, and 
this perhaps is scarcely of less moment, after 
the change is made you are condemned to end- 
less torment in having always to fear further 

52 We see from experience that nearly all those 
who help another to become great, grow in 
time to be little loved by him. The reason 
is said to be, that he whom they advance, 
knowing their ability, fears lest some day they 
should take from him what they have given. 
Perhaps a still stronger reason is that such 
persons, thinking themselves to deserve much, 
look for greater reward than is their due, and 
are displeased when it is withheld. Hence 
resentment on the one side and suspicion on 
the other. 

53 When you who were the beginning of my 
g^atness or helped me in my rise, require me 
to govern as you please or to concede you 



powers in derogation of my authority, you can- 
cel your original benefit, since you seek to de- 
prive me, either wholly or in part, of the fruits 
of What you aided me to gain. 

54 Let him who has to defend a city make it his 
chief aim to protract the defence as long as he 
can. For, as the proverb says, " Time is life," 
and delay brings with it a thousand oppor- 
tunities which at the first were neither seen nor 
hoped for. 

55 Spend not on the strength of future gains ; 
for often these either fail you altogether, or 
else fall short of expectation. Charges, on the 
contrary, always multiply. It is from neglecting 
this that so many merchants are brought to 
bankruptcy. For these, that they may buy goods 
to be resold at a great profit, draw bills of 
exchange. But if no profits come, or if they be 
deferred, the merchant is in danger of being 
eaten up by his bills, which, with never a rest 
or respite, keep on running and devouring. 

56 Wise economy consists not so much in know- 
ing how to avoid expenses, for often these are 
not to be avoided, as in knowing how to spend 



to advantage and get twenty-ibur quattrim for 
yoKxx grosso. 

57 How much luckier than all the rest of man- 
kind are the astrologers, who, if they tell one 
truth among a Imndred lies, obtain so much 
credit that even their lies are believed ; whereas 
other men, if found out in a single lie, are so 
discredited as not to be believed even when they 
speak the truth. This is due to the inquisitive 
nature of men, who, desiring to know the future, 
and lacking other means of infdrmation, will 
run after any one who promises to enlighten 

58 Most truly has the wise man said that of 
things future and contingent we can have no 
certain knowledge. Turn this over in your 
mind as you will, the longer you turn it the 
more you will be satisfied of its truth. 

59 I once told Pope Clement, who was wcmt to be 
disquieted by every trifling danger, that a good 
cure for these empty panics was to recall the 
number of like occasions on which his fears had 
proved idle. By this I would not be understood 


as urging loea iiever to iee] fear, but as c^ttsuad- 
ing them from liviug in perpetual alarm. 

60 Too subtle an intellect is a gifi that brings i 
torment and unhappiness to its possessor, since I y 
it only serves to involve him tn scruples andf 
anxieties unknown to men of duller percepJ 

61 Temperaments vary, some men being so 
sanguine that they count with certainty on 
what they do not yet possess, others so diffi- 
dent that they hope for nothing they have ) 
not already in their grasp. I myself approach 
nearer to the latter class than to the former, 
and he who is of this complexion makes fewer 
mistakes, but leads a more anxious and harassed 

62 Commonwealths, as a rule, and all men who 
lack experience, suffer themselves to be more 
easily moved by a show of gain than by 
warnings of loss. And yet the contrary should ^ 
hold, since the passion for keeping is more 
naituraU than that for acquiring. The root of 
the error lies in this, that hope has commonly 
much more influence over men than fear. 



Accordingly they are apt not to fear what they 
should, and to hope what they should not. 

63 We see that the old are more avaricious 
than the young, and yet the reverse should 
hold, for as they have shorter time to live, less 
should suffice them. The reason commonly 
given is that they are more timorous ; but this 
I do not believe. For I see that many of them 
are more' cruel, and, if not in act, at any rate in 
inclination, more prone to lust than young men, 
and more disturbed by the thought of death. 
I think the true reason is that the longer a man 
lives, the more his habits grow confirmed, and 
the closer he applies himself to the things of 
this world, and so comes to love them more, 
and to be more moved by them. 

64 Before the year 1494 wars were protracted, 
battles bloodless, the methods followed in 
besieging towns slow and uncertain; and al- 
though artillery was already in use, it was 
managed with such want of skill that it caused 
little hurt. Hence it came that the ruler of 
a state could hardly be dispossessed. But the 
French, on their invasion of Italy, infused so 
much liveliness into our wars, that up to the 



year 1521^ whenever the open country was lost 
the state was lost with it. Signor Prospero 
Colonna, by his successful defence of Milan, 
was the first to show how an attacking army 
might be withstood; after which lesson the 
rulers of states reg^ned the same security 
against asssulants that they had enjoyed before 
the year 1494, but for other reasons ; for before 
that time their security arose from men not 
having mastered the methods o£ attad^ whereas 
now it results from their proficiency in the arts 
of defence. 

65 Whosoever first gave the name in^etUmeuta 
to the Ix^gage ol ait army, couid not have 
named it bel!ter. Nor is it iH said that such 
and such a thing is as hard as to shift a 
camp. For it is an atoost endless business 
to get togeth^ ia a camp all that is needed 
for moving it 

/ 66 Distrust those ivrho talk loudly of liberty ; 

for nearly all of theoi, aye all of than without 

excepti<m, have tilieir own ends to serve. And 

often we are shown by experience, which is 

our si»-est guide, that these fellows, when* 

they think they c^i piwh their fortunes better 



under an absolute government, rush to it post- 

67 There is no post or employment in the world 
wherein greater capacity is needed than in the 
conunand of an army, as well from the import- 
ance of the charge itself as because it requires 
you to provide and arrange for an endless variety 
of contingencies. He, therefore, who holds such 
a conunand should be able to see a long way 
before him, and know at once how to repair 

68 To be neutral in the wars waged by others is 
a wise course for him who is in himself so strong 
that whichever side prevails he has no cause 
for fear. For he keeps clear of trouble himself^ 
and may hope to profit from the troubles of 
his neighbours. But unless you be in this posi- 

^- tion, to be neutral is an indiscreet and hurtful 
course, leaving you a prey alike to the victor 
and the vanquished. And the most fatal of all 
neutralities is that which results not from choice, 
but from irresolution ; that is to say, when, with- 
out making up your mind whether to take a side 
or no, you so behave as to give no content even 
to him by whom at the moment your mere assur- 


ance of neutrality would be welcomed This last 
blunder is more likely to be committed by a 
commonwealth than by a prince. For generally 
speaking, it results from those who have to 
resolve being so divided in their counsels, one J 
man urg^g one thing, another something else, 
that they cannot agree to one opinion prevaiUng 
over another. And this it was that ruined our 
government in 15 12. 

69 If you observe closely, you will find that not 
only the manners of men, their language and 
modes of speech, their dress, their style of 
building, their methods of cultivation, and the 
like, alter from age to age, but, what is more 
singular, their sense of taste also alters, so that 
a kind of food which is relished by one genera- 
tion is often displeasing to the next 

70 The truest test of a man's courage is his be- 
haviour when overtaken by unforeseen dangers. 
He who shows a good front to these, as we find 
very few do, may deservedly be prcmounced re- 
solute and intrepid. 

71 When you perceive a city begin to dedinei 
a government to change, a new sovereignty to( 




grow up, or any other like mutation going on, 
concerning which it is sometimes possible before- 
hand to form an approximate judgment, be care- 
ful that you do not deceive yourself in your 
estimate of time. For the march of events, both 
frook their own nature and ftom the various 
obstades diat stand in their way, is far slower 
than is commonly supposed, and to be mis- 
taken on this head may do you much harm. 
Be very careflil, I say, for this is ground on 
which men often stumble. What I speak of 
happens also in matters private and personal, 
but is fax mope frequent in such as are of puUic 
and general concern ; for in these the materkd 
mass is greater, its progress slower, and subject 
to a greater variety of accidents. 

72 There is nothing in life diat a man should 
more desire, or that brings him greater glory, 
than to see his enemy prostrate in the dust and 
at his mercy. But this glory is doubled by him 
who uses the occasion well, that is to say, who 
shows mercy and is content with having had 
the victory. 

73 Neither Alexander the Great, nor Cxsar, nor 
any of the other great commaBd«:s who have 



been roiowned for their clemenqr, ever used k 
where they knew it was likely to lessen or ^i- 
danger the effect of their victories (for indeed to 
have done so had been aUnost madness), but 
only in cases wherein its exercise, taking nothing 
from their safety, added largely to their fame. 

74 Revenge springs not always from hatred or 
from a cruel disposition, but is sometimes neces- 
sary, to the end that others may be taught by 
example to beware how they injure us. Nor is 
it inconsistent that a man should revenge him- 
self, and yet harbour 00 rancour against him 
whom he chastises. 


75 Pope Leo told me that his father, Lorenzo dc* 
Medici, would often say, " Be sure that he who 
speaks evil oi us does not wish us welL" 

/ 76 Whatsoever has been in the past or is now 
will repeat itself in the fiitiire ; but the names 
and sur&ces of things will be so altered, that he ^ 
who has not a quick eye will not recognise them, 
or know to guide himself accordingly, or to form 
a judgment on what he sees. 

77 When ambassador in Spain, I observed that 



whenever the Catholic King, Don Ferdinand of 
Aragon, a most prudent and powerful prince, 
was minded to engage in any new enterprise, 
he would so contrive matters that before his 
intention was published the whole court and 
people were crying out and urging upon him 
that this was a thing he ought to do. The King 
disclosing his design at the moment it was thus 
desired and called for, it was received by his 
subjects and throughout his dominions with 
incredible support and favour. 

' 78 The very same things which, when under- 
taken at the proper moment, readily succeed, 
and, so to speak, accomplish themselves, will, 
if attempted prematurely, not merely fail then, 
^ but will often also lose their aptitude for suc- 
ceeding at their own time. Accordingly, you 
are not to rush hastily on any enterprise, nor 
to precipitate events, but to await their season 
and maturity. 

79 Unless rightly understood, the proverb which 
bids the wise man trust to time might be 
dangerous. For when a coveted opportunity 
offers, he who fails to use it then may after- 
wards look for it in vain. And for many things 



despatch both in resolving and executing is 
essential But when you are surrounded by 
difficuhies and embarrassments, you must pro- 
crastinate and gain what time you can ; for 
often in this way you either extricate yourself 
from your troubles, or at least learn to under- 
stand them better. Putting this meaning on 
the proverb, it is always a wholesome one ; but 
interpreted otherwise, it might frequently prove 

80 Happy they to whom the same opportunity 
offers itself twice. For even a wise man may 
neglect or misuse a first occasion ; but he must 
indeed be a fool who fails to recognise and 
profit by a second. 

81 Never count so surely on the happening of 
any event, however certain it may seem, as not, 
when it can be done without crossing your plans, 
to keep something in reserve to be used in case 
the contrary of what you expect should come to 
pass. For things often turn out so differently 
from what was loqked for, that it is only prudent 
to act in this way. 

82 Small and almost imperceptible beginnings 



are often the occasion c^ great disasters or of 
great prosperity. The highest prudence there- 
fore lies in noting and weighing well all circum- 
stances, even the most trifling. 

Ss Once I thought that what I could not appre- 
hend at a glance would never grow clear to me 
afterwards. But experience has shown me the 
contrary to be the case, both as regards myself 
and others. For the longer and more closely 
things are considered, the better are they under- 
stood and carried out 

84 If you would be employed in affairs, never 
allow yourself to be withdrawn from your hold 
on them, for you will not be able to recover it 
at your pleasure. While you continue to retain 
your hold, one employment will come to you 
after another, without your using any special 
diligence or address to get them. 

85 Not only does one man's fortune differ from 
another's, but the same man's fortune will also 
differ. For the same man will be lucky in one 
thing, unlucky in something else. I myself 
have been fortunate in respect of those gains 
which come without capital, and simply through 



personal qualities. In all others I liave been 
unfortunate. And things I have got with diffi- 
culty by seeking, when I have not sought them 
hare fallen into my hands. 

86 Let him who is employed in important affairs 
and looks to make his way in the world, conceal 
mishaps and magnify successes. This is a kind 
of quadkery and abhorrent to my nattu^ But 
because under our present rulers advancement 
depends more on the opinion of men than on 
realities, it profits that things be thought to be 
going well with you, and hurts if the contrary be 

S7 From friends and kinsmen you draw advan- 
tages which neither you nor they are conscious 
o^ far in excess of those recognised as actually 
coming from them. For occasions on which you 
have to resent to them for aid are rare in com- 
psuison with the benefits daily afforded you under 
the belief that you can have their support when 
you will. 

88 A prince, and every one else who is employed 
on state affairs, ought not only to keep secret 
things which it is desirable should not be known, 



but should accustom himself and his ministers 
to be silent on all matters, even the most trifling 
and insignificant, which he would not have made 
public. For your subjects and those about you 
being thus kept in the dark as to your intentions, 
abide in suspense and wonder, and your slightest 
movements and gestures are watched. 

89 When it comes from a doubtful source, I am 
slow to believe news that in itself seems likely. 
For what men's minds are already prepared to 
accept as true may easily be feigned, whereas 
things in themselves improbable and unlooked 
for are not so often invented. Accordingly, when 
I hear unlikely news, I am less apt to dis- 
credit it 

90 They who depend on the favour of a prince 
will hang upon his looks and note his slightest 
movements and gestures, that they may fly to 

^ anticipate his wishes. This often does them 
much harm. It is wiser to keep a cool head, 
and, without allowing yourself to be disturbed 
by trifles, to come forward only when substan- 
tial services are to be rendered. 

91 I can hardly reconcile it with God's justice 



that the sons of Lodovico Sforza should be 
permitted to enjoy the state of Milan, which 
their father seized iipon wrongfully, and to the 
ruin of the whole world. 

92 Never say God has prospered this man be- 
cause he is good, or that another has been 
unprosperous because he is wicked. For we 
often see the contrary happen. Yet are we not 
therefore to pronounce that the justice of God 
falls short, since His counsels are so deep as 
rightly to be spoken of as unfathomable. 

93 If a subject, in seeking to do what it is the 
prince's office to do, wrongs his prince and is 
guilty of the crime /issce majestatis^ in like 
manner the prince who does what it is for the 
people and for private men to do is equally ^ 
a transgressor, and commits the crime lasi 
populu Accordingly, the Duke of Ferrara, 
who occupies himself with trade, with mono- 
polies, and such other vulgar pursuits as are 

fit only for private men to engage in, merits 
the severest blame. 

94 Should you frequent a prince's court in the 
hope to be employed by him, see that you keep 




yourself as much as you can before his eyes. 
For affairs are constantly turning up, which, if 
reminded of you by your presence, the prince 
will intrust to you, but which, were he not to 
see you, he would commit to another. 

95 Foolhardy we may call the man who rushes 
blindly into dangers without discerning their 
true character. Him we name brave who re- 
cognising dangers fears them no more thaxi he 

96 It is an old saying that all wise men are 
timid, and for this reason, that perceiving all 
dangers, they have more cause to be afraid. 
I believe the saying to be false, since he is 
not to be reckoned a wise man who thinks 
more of a danger than he should. I wovM 
rather call him wise who rightly estimates the 
degree of the danger and fears it no more 
than he ought. It is the brave man, thei^fore, 
rather than the timid who is to be accounted 
wise. And assuming both to be equally dis- 
cerning, the distinction between the two lies 
in this, that the timid man takes into account 
all the dangers which he knows may possibly 
arise, and always anticipates the worst ; whereas 




the other, though he too discerns all dangers, 
yet reflecting how many of them may be scaped 
by proper precautions, and how many come to 
nothing of themselves, does not suffer himself 
to be dismayed, but goes boldly forward in the 
hope and confidence that everything will not 
happen that might 

97 When Pope Clement was created, the Marquis 
(£ Pescara said to me that this was perhaps 
the only occasion oa which he had seen what 
all men desired come to pass. The explanation ) 
may be that it is the few and not the many 
who give the affairs of this world their im- 
pulse, and that the ends of the few are always 
different from those of the many, and so lead to 
other results than those die many desire. 

98 Though a prudent tyrant will look with fstvour 
on those wise men who are timid, he wiH not 
feel ill-disposed to those who are brave if he 
know them to be of a tranquil temper. For 
men of this sort he may reasonably hope to 
content It is the bold and restless that beyond 
all others displease him, since, as he can never 
count on satisfying them, he has to bethink him 
how he may get them out of his way. 



96 By a prudent tyrant, unless he looked on me 
as his enemy, I had sooner be taken for a bold 
and restless man than for a timid. The former 
he will seek to conciliate ; with the latter he 
feels himself secure. 

100 It is safer to stand fairly well with a tyrant 
than to share his closest intimacy. For living 
with him on this footing, if you be generally 
esteemed, you not only profit by his greatness, 
sometimes in a larger measure than those others 
of whom he feels himself more secure, but may 
also hope to save yourself in the event of his 

1 01 To protect yotirself against a brutal and 
bloodthirsty tyrant, no rule or remedy can be 
prescribed that will anything avail you, except, 
as reconunended in the case of the plague, to 
flee from him as fast and as far as you can. 

102 The captain who is besieged, if he expect 
succour, will always represent his necessities 
as much greater than in truth they are. But 
when he does not look to be relieved, having 
then no way left him but to tire out his opponent, 
and with this object to lower his hopes, he will 



always disguise his distress and make the least 
of it. 

103 A tyrant will do all he can to read the secrets 
of your heart, plying you with civilitiesj con- 
versing much with you himself, and having 
you watched by others, who at his orders wind 
themselves into your confidence. From all 
which snares it is not easy for you to escape. \? 
Wherefore, if you would not have your thoughts 
known, see that you most carefiilly guard against 
aught that might tend to betray them ; using 
the same address to this end as the tyrant to 
penetrate them. 

104 Frank sincerity is a quality much extolled 
among men and pleasing to every one, while 
simulation, on the contrary, is detested and con- 
demned. Yet for a man's self, simulation is of 
the two by far the more useful ; sincerity tend; 
ing rather to the interest of others. But since it 
cannot be denied that it is not a fine thing to "^ 
deceive, I would commend him whose conduct 

is as a rule open and straightforward, and who 
uses simulation only in matters of the gravest 
importance and such as very seldom occur ; for 
in this way he will gain a name for honesty and 



sincerity, and with it the advantages attaching 
to these qualities. At the same time, when, in 
any extreme emergency, he resorts to simula- 
tion, he will draw all the greater advantage 
from it, because from his reputation for plain 
dealing his artifice will blind men more. 

105 Even after a man has got a name for feigning 
and dissembling, yoo. shall find that his frauds 
sometimes succeed. This seems a strange 
thing to say, and yet is undeniable; and I 
myself remember that the Catholic King, who 
beyond all other men had a reputj^ioa of this 
sort, when he had any end to accomplish never 
failed in finding dupes. This must be due 
either to the simplicity of men c« tg> their 
greed. For greedy men believe easily what- 
soever they desire, and simple men know not 
when they are dec^vecL 

106 Nothing in our republicaa way of living gives 
us more trouble ^an to bestow oiur daughters 
suitably in marris^. And this because all men 
having a higher opinicm (^ themselves than 
others entertain c^ them, think at first that they 
can secure alliances in quarters where they 
are not to be had. Accordingly,^ I have often 



seen fathers decline proposals which, after 
many frukless atten^)ts in other directions, 
they would gladly have accepted. You must, 
therefore, measure fairly your own position with 
that of others, and not let yourself be carried 
away by an undue estimate of your own in*- 
portance. Of this I am convinced ; but am 
not so sure that I should know to put what I 
say into practice, or avoid the common error 
of valuing m3rself more than I ought. This 
warning, however, is not meant to make us 
think sa meanly of ourselves, that, like Fran- 
cesco Vettori, we should give our daughters 
away to the first who asks for them. 

107 To be bom a citizen of a dependient state is 
not a thing to be desired. But i^ such is to be 
your fete, it is better to be the dependent of 
a prince than of a commonwealth. For a 
commonweahh will abase all who- are in sub- 
jection to it, nor permit any save its own citi- 
zens to share its greatness. But a prince has a 
wider sympathy for all his subjects, and looks on 
them all with an equal eye. So that every man 
may hope ta be employed and advanced by him. 

108 There is no man so prudent as not sometimes 




to make mistakes. Good fortune lies in our 
making fewer than others do, or in matters of 
less moment 

109 It is not the fruition of free institutions, nor 

the end they were meant to serve, that every 

man should govern (for none ought to govern 

save such as are fit and worthy), but that good 

laws and ordinances be observed ; which is 

better secured under a commonwealth than 

^ under the rule of one or of a few. What 

i brings so much trouble on our city is that men 

' are not content to be free and secure, but are 

never at rest imless they themselves govern. 

/up What a mistake is theirs who cite on all 
I occasions the example of the Romans ! To do 
i as the Romans did, we would need to have a 
I city circumstanced like theirs. To attempt it 
1 with means so inferior as ours is to require of 
the ass the fleetness of the horse. 

Ill The vulgar blame the lawyers because they 
differ in their opinions, not reflecting that this 
proceeds from no defect in the men, but from 
the nature of the thing. For since it is im- 
possible to bring every particular case under 



general rules, questions often arise that are not 
expressly determined by the laws, but must be 
dealt with in accordance with the opinions of 
men, which are not always in unison. We see 
the same happen with physicians, with philo- 
sophers, with those who have to arbitrate in the 
disputes of merchants, and in the reasonings of 
those who take part in public affairs, among all 
of whom there is the same divergence of opinion 
as among the lawyers. 

1 2 Messer Antonio of Venafra was wont to say, I 
and with justice, that if some six or eight 
sensible men be brought together to consult, 
they become so many fools. For disagreeing 
among themselves, they rather promote disputes 
than arrive at conclusions. 

113 He mistakes who thinks the law leaves any- 
thing to the arbitrary determination of the 
judge, that is to say, to be decided at his mere 
will and pleasure. The law never leaves to him 
absolutely either to give or take away. But 
because there are many points as to which it is 
impossible that the law should, lay down a fixed 
rule, it leaves these to be dealt with by the 
judge according to his discretion ; by which is 



meaal that» after considming all the particulars 
a.tvi circumsitances of the case» he is to decide 
as equity and conscience dictate. Wherefore, 
although the judge cannot be called to account 
for his decisions. b^Mre any human tribunal, he 
will have to stand before the judgment-seat of 
God, who wiU pronounce whether he has deter- 
njijied ngbteosusly or no, 

114 In narrating current events, some writers will 
enter on a discussion of what is likely to happen 
herea^ir ; and such foreci^ts, when n\ade by 
men who are well iaformod, seem very admirable 
to him who reads thenv Neverthekea they are 
extremely misleading. For as these reasonings, 
like the links &( a chain» d^end one upon 
another, if any one of them fail, aU the others 
deduced from it fall to the ground, and the most 
trifling variation in the circumstances suffices to 
cause an erroi: in the c(»idusion. It is impos- 
sible, therefor^ tQ form a judgment as to the 
course of events, while they are yet remote ; our 
opinions m^ust be formed amd modified &om 
day to day. 

115 In a iM)te-book writtea before the year I457> 
I find it recorded as having been said by a wise 



tnrizcn that Fioretice must dtbcr d€istr6y the 
Manie tjr be destroyed by it \ dMi ^ifcU be- 
lieve that unless ©or city restrict the Ctedil of 
thfc Afonte^ it tniay ^6 extend 'ttt 05pe*ati<Mis that 
« wiH be in^ossible to control it Butt the Aing 
has gone on long without producing the antici- 
pated disorder. In a word, the movement has 
been slower thsm perhaps he who made the 
prophecy fopesawj. 

1 1 6 Those ^ho govern states mufet n^ be daunted 
by seeming dangers, however great, near, and 
imminent they fcok. For the Devil, as the pro- 
Xrerb «ay^ is never ^ Idack as he is painted. 
Many things may come about diat wiU cause 
dangers to disappear of themselves ; and even 
when they do airive, some unthoughtt)f remedy 
or alleviation will be found to accompany them. 
This is a hint to Which you should give heed ; for 
every day you will have occaiion to act upon it 

117 It ig most tniisleading^ to judge by examples ;) 
for unless these be in all respects parallel, theyl 
are Of no fbrce, th^ least diversity in thccircum- \ 
stahte^ lliving rise to the widest divergence tn 1 
Ihfe <X)tt'clusionS. To discern these mmute differ- 1 
enfefes ttquires a just and clear eye* 



II&. With him who greatly esteems fame, since 
he cares not for cost, fatigue, or danger, every- 
thing succeeds. I have found this in my own 
case, and therefore can say and write it boldly. 
Dead and empty are the piu-suits of those who 
are not pushed forward by this fiery spur. 

119 The falsification of documents is seldom con- 
trived from the first, but is introduced afterwards 
in the course of time, as occasion or necessity 
may suggest To secure yourself against this, 
it is a wise precaution that, so soon as any 
written instrument is executed, you have an 
authentic copy of it made, to be retained in 
your own keeping. 

120 Most of the violent deeds that take place 
in divided cities have their origin in distrust. 
For one man, fearing another's treachery, is 
forced to forestall him. Accordingly, he who 
governs in such a city should seek to anticipate, 
and to remove all cause for distrusting him. 

121 Attempt no innovation in the government of 
^ your city, in the hope that you will be seconded 

by the people. For this were a dangerous 
foundation to build on. Either they lack 



courage to stand by you, or else, as often 
happens, they cherish views very different from 
what you imagine. Witness the case of Brutus 
and Cassius, who, after the murder of Caesar, 
so far from receiving from the people the sup- 
port they had reckoned on, were constrained 
through fear of them to seek refiige in the 

1 22 See how completely men deceive themselves ! 
Every one regards those sins which he does 
not himself .commit as heinous, and those he 
does conmiit as trivial So that good and evil 
are more often measured by this rule than by 
reflection on the nature and tendencies of our 

123 I am inclined to think that in all ages men 
have taken many things for miracles which in 
truth were far enough from being so. This, at 
least, is most certain, that every religion has 
had miracles of its own. Hence it follows that 
a miracle is but feeble testimony to the truth 
of one faith over that of another. Miracles, 
perhaps, do well display the power of God ; yet 
not more of the God of the Christian than of the 
gods of the gentiles : so that it may not be 



amiss to say of them, and of prophecies too^ 
that they are secrets of Nature to the dq>ths 
of which the mind of man cannot reach. 

124 I note that in every country, and almost in 
every city, worship is offered at certain shrines 
with exactly the same effect In Florence, ottr 
Lady of Impruneta brings rain or fair weather ; 
in other places, I have seen other Virgins and 
Saints do the s«ane^a manifest proof that 

i God's grace succours all. And yet, perhaps, 
these effects are rather the results of men's faith 
than due to the agencies generally credited with 

125 Philosophers, theologians, and all others vhx> 
write of things unseen and supernatural, give 
utterance to a thousand foUies. For the fact 

^ is that men are in the dark as to such mat- 
ters, and the search into them has served and 
serves rather to exercise the intellect than to 
discover truth. 

126 It were to be wished that we couJd do things, 
or cause them to be done, estactly to our minds, 
and so that they should be free fr<»n the least 
flaw or defect But since this were hard of 



aocomplisfanieiit, k is a mistake to spend much 
time in over-refining; for opportunities will often 
escape you while you labour to attain per- 
fection. And even when you think you have 
succeeded in your efforts, you see afterwards 
thftt you have been deceived ; for sudi is the 
nature of the things of this world, that it is scarce 
possible to find anything which has not some- 
where imperfection or blemi^ We must there- 
fore be content to take things as they are^ and to 
redcon the least evil as a good. 

127 Tidings have often been brought m^ in time 
of war which seemed to show t^at our afiisiirs 
were desperate, but which have been imme- 
diately followed by others of a more reassur- 
ing character; or sometimes the good tidings 
would come first and the bad after ; and these 
contrary rumours would be fiequently renewed. 
A lesson to a wise captain not to be too easily 
depressed or elated. 

128 Iti affairs of state you are hot so much to 
coBsideir what a prince ought in reason to do, 
as what, having regard to his disposition and 
previous behavour, it is likely that he will do. 
For princes often dc^ not what they ought, but 



- what they please, or what their nature prompts 
them to; and he who expects them to be 
guided by any different rule will find himself 
mightily mistaken. 

129 To leave undone what, if done, would be a 
crime or an injustice, is not to be spoken of as 
a good action or a benefit For between bene- 
fits and wrongs, between actions that are to be 
praised and those that are to be condemned, 
there lies a middle course in refraining from 
hurt or offence. Wherefore, let no man boast 
that he has not said this or done that ; for true 
merit mostly lies in being able to affirm, I did 
it, or I said it 

13P Beyond all others let a prince beware of those 
i whose nature it is never to be satisfied. For no 
/ load of benefits he may heap upon them will 
ever secure him against their ingratitude. 

131 There is a wide difference between having 
your subjects discontented and having them 
desperate. The discontented man, however 
much he may be disposed to injure you, will 
not lighdy expose himself to danger, but will 
await opportunities which perhaps may never 



come. But the desperate man goes about seek- 
ing and searching for them, and will plunge 
headlong into all kinds of revolutionary hopes 
and schemes. From the former, therefore, you 
have seldom much to fear; agjtinst the latter 
you must be always on your guard. 

132 I have ever been of a most open nature, and 
the sworn foe of all quirks and cavils, so that 
any one dealing with me has always felt him- 
self much at his ease. Nevertheless I have 
recognised that in negotiating this artifice is 

of signal service, namely, never to come at ^ 
once to those questions that are of most ^ 
moment, but postponing these to the last, to 
allow yourself to be drawn towards them only 
step by step and reluctantly. Whoso does this 
often succeeds beyond his hopes ; while he who 
transacts business as I do, will only secure that 
without which no settlement were possible. 

133 So long as it brings you no loss or discredit, 
it is a wise course, though little followed, to 
hide the displeasure that you feel against ^ 
others. For it often happens that at some 
later time you have occasion to make use 

of these men, which you cannot well do if 



they know you for their enttny* I have fre- 
queatly been obliged to seek assistance from 
^ persons ag^ainst whom I fdt great bitterness ; 
and they, believing the contrary^ or at any 
rate hot being aware of my dislifce, ha\« served 
me with the utmost alacrity. 

134 AUm en are by nature more iA<^n edjo.;fc6od 
than to evil ; nor is there any one who, whcte 

other considerations do not mov^ him to the 
oontraly, would not more wilikigly do yoti a 
benefit than an uyury. £ut iMunan nature is 
so frail, and open t(> so many teiAptations^ 
that men easily allow themselves to deviate 
from their natural gt)odnte& For which reason 
wise lawgivers have had recourse to rewards 
and putiishmtnts. And this i& merely ah en» 
dtavo^lr to ke^ men fixed ill their aatural 
inclinations by the help of hope and iear. 

135 If any one be found disposed by natiwe to do 
evil rather than good, csdl him not a man, but 
rather a b^ast or monster; since ht lacks an 
instinct which by nature no man is "withCmt. 


6 The fool will sometimes atcomplish greatet 
things than the wise man. Fbr the latter, uhless 



otherwise constrained, will trust mudi to reason 
and littte* to fortune, while the other trusts HHich 
to fortune and little to reason. But the thkigs 
seconded by fortune have oflen a success past 
belie£ The wise men of Florence would have 
yielded to the presMit storm, but the fools being 
resolved, contrary taall reason, to withstand it, 
have up to. this time succeeded m doing wbat 
none could have believed it in any way possible 
for our city to do ; and this is what is meant 
by the proverb, Aitdaces fortima jtmjat 

\yj Wene the evils following frran bad govern- 
ment^ to become appaiient in every particukr 
qas^ he that knew not how to govern would 
eiliker try to learn, os would leave the task of 
gofveming to others who tmderstood it better. 
The mischief is that me^k, and more especially 
the common sort, not recognising, by reason 
of their ignorance, the cause of d^rders, do 
not re£3r these to their true source ; and not 
perceiving how mudi harm results, from being 
governed by those wbp know not how to govern, 
persist in the error of themselves doing what they 
do not understand, or of su£jering themselves to 
be governed by incompetent men ; and hence 
the overthrow of states is often brought about. 




138 Neither wise men nor fools can in the end 
escape what has to be ; so that nothing I ever 
read seems to me more true than the saying of 
Seneca, Ducunt volentes fata, nolentes trahunt 

139 Cities, like men, must perish ; there is, how- 
ever, this difference. Men perish even when 
they have committed no irregularities, because 
their material is perishable. Cities perish from 
no defect in their material, which constantly 
renews itself, but either from ill-fortune or from 
bad government, that is to say, the unwise 
methods of their rulers. Ruin coming from 
mere ill-fortune is extremely rare ; for a city 

" being a vigorous body and of great capacity 
for resistance, extraordinary and overwhelming 
violence must needs be employed for its de- 
struction. Accordingly it is almost always the 
errors of those who govern that occasion the 
downfall of cities. And were a city to be 
always well governed, it might last for ever; 
or at any rate have a life out of aU proportion 
longer than any city has yet had. 

140 To speak of the people is in truth to speak of 
I a beast, mad, mistaken, perplexed, without taste, 
/ discernment, or stability. 



. /' 

141 No wonder that we are ignorant of what has 
happened in past ages, or of what is happening 
now in distant countries and remote cities. For 
if you note it well, you will perceive that we have 
no true knowledge even of the present, and of 
what goes on from day to day in our own town. 
Nay, often between the palace and the market- 
place there lies so dense a mist or is built a 
wall so thick that no eye 'can penetrate it ; so 
that the people know as much of what their 
rulers are doing, or their reasons for doing it, 
as they know of what is being done in China. 
And for this reason the world is readily filled 
with empty and idle beliefs. 

142 It is great good fortune for a man to have 
occasion for making it appear that actions really 
undertaken for his private ends have been^ 
prompted by considerations of public advan- 
tage. This it was that gave such lustre to the 
enterprises of the Catholic King. For though 
these were always engaged in to add to his 
own greatness or security, they would often 
seem to be directed to defend the Church or 
spread the Christian faith. 

/ 143 All historians, without, as it seems to me, a 



single exception) are at feutt in omitting to 
relate many things known in their times, as 
being matters of universal notoriety. Whence 
it happens that in the histories of the Greeks, 
the Romans, and all other nations we are at 
the present day in the dark concerning many 
matters of fact For instance, as to the autho- 
rity and distinctions of their magistrates, their 
systems of government, their methods of war- 
fare^ the size of their towns, and many like 
matters, which being very well known at the 
date they wrote, they, in consequence, passed^ 
over. But had they reflected that in the course 
of time cities disaj^ar and the memory of 
things is lost, and that histories are written 
for no other reason than that these may be 
perpetuated, they would have been more care- 
^1 to write in such a way that men bom in a 
distant age should have every event as much 
before their eyes as those in whose presence they 
happened; for this is the true object of history* 

144 Word coming when I was in Spain that the 
Venetians had leagued with the King of France 
against the Catholic King, Ahnazano the Spanish 
Secretary said to me. We have a proverb in 
Castile that the rope breaks at the point where 



it is weakest. His meaning was, I take it 
that in such alliances the weakest always fares 
worst For men do not govern themselves by 
considerations of what is right or fit, but all 
seeking their own advantage, agree to make 
him suffer, whom, as being the feeblest among 
them, they least fear. Whosoever, therefore, 
has to negotiate with others more powerful 
than himself should keep this proverb in mind ; 
for e^ery hour will prove its truth. 

145 Though human life be short, rest assured 
that he will find it long enough who knows to 
make wise use of his time, and does not un- 
profitably waste, it For man's nature fits him 
for great efforts, and any one who is diligent 
and resolute will get through an incredible 
amount of work. 

146 It is a great misfortune to be so situated 
that you cannot secure a good without first 
accepting an evii 

147 He mistakes who thinks the success of an 

enterprise to depend on whether it be just or 

no. For every day we have proof to the 

contrary, and that it is not the justice of a 



cause, but prudence, strength, and good for- 
tune that give the victory. It is doubtless 
true that in him who has right on his side 
there is often bred a firm confidence, founded 
on the belief that God will favour the righteous 
cause, which makes him bold and stubborn, 
and that from this boldness and stubbornness 
victories do sometimes follow. In this way it 
may now and then indirectly help you that your 
cause is just But it is a .mistake to suppose 
that directly any such effect is produced. 

148 He that is in too great haste to bring a war 
to a conclusion will often prolong it ; for the 
failure to await the necessary supplies and the 
fitting season for the enterprise makes that 
difficult which otherwise had been easy ; and 
thus for every single day it was thought to gain 
by despatch, more than a month is frequently 
lost ; not to mention that this may be the 
cause of further disaster. 

149 In wars whoso would be sparing will spend 
most, since there is nothing that demands a 
larger or more unstinted outlay. The more 
complete your preparations are, the sooner will 
the war be over; and as the failure to spend 



money prolongs the enterprise, the cost in the 
end is out of all comparison greater. Accord- 
ingly there is nothing more ruinous than to 
enter on a campaign when you are without 
ready money, and have to pay by drafts at long 
dates ; for in this way you rather feed the war 
than finish it. 

1 50 If you have done a man a wrong, never after- 
wards think it sufficient ground for trusting him 
or confiding in him, that from the business on 
which you employ him he may, if he conduct 
it well, reap both honour and profit For in 
some men, from their nature, the memory of 
wrong has such ascendancy, that it drives them 
to revenge themselves even to their hurt ; either 
because they value this satisfaction more, or 
because passion so blinds them that they can- 
not recognise what would be honourable and 
useftil for them. Keep this maxim in mind, for 
there are many who make this mistake. 

151 Remember, as I have already warned you in 
respect of princes, to keep your eye fixed not 
so much on what those with whom you have 
dealings ought in reason to do, as on what, 
having regard to their disposition and habits, 
it may be expected that they will do. 



152 Take heed how you involve yourself in new 
enterprises or engagements ; for once in, you 
are forced to go on. Whence it results that 
men are often found labouring through tasks 
which being embarked in they cannot withdraw 
from, though had they foreseen a tenth part of 
their difficulty they would have gone a thousand 
miles to avoid them. This rule holds most of 
all in feuds, factions, and wars, before taking 
part in which, or in anything of a like nature, 
no amount o( careful and cautious consideration 
will be excessive. 

153 It is seen that ambassadors often take the 
part of the prince to whose court they are sent ; 
and this makes them be suspected either of 
having received bribes, or of looking for them, 
or at least of having been won over by the 
civilities and attentions paid them. Yet it may 
also be that having the affairs of the prince with 

^^. whom they are living constantly before their 
^ eyes, and their attention less drawn to any 
others, these seem to them of more than their 
true importance. But as this reason does not 
operate with the prince who sends them, by 
whom all the circumstances needing to be con- 
sidered are equally known, he speedily sees his 



minister to be at fault, and often ascribes to dis*\ 
honesty what in truth results from want of judg- 
ment. Let him who goes as an ambassador 
note this well, for it is a matter of much impor- 

154 Numberless are the secrets of princes^ and 
endless the matters they have to take into 
account ; wherefore it were rashness to judge 
hastily of their actions* For often it happens ^ 
that what you suppose a prince to have done 
for one reason, has in fact been done for another ; 
and what seems to you done at random and 
imprudently, has been done designedly and with 
consummate wisdom. 

155 It is said that he who is not acqusunted with 
all particulars cannot form a true judgment. 
And yet you shall often see a man who is want- 
ing in discernment judge better when he has 
only a general acquaintance with a subject, 
than when all the particulars are before hink 
For on a general view a right conclu»on will 
fi^quently occur to him ; whereas on hearing 
particulars he gets bewildered. 

156 By nature I am extremely firm and settled in 



my resolutions. And yet, after deciding on some 
important step, I am often visited with a kind of 
repentance for the course I have taken. Not 
that I believe that had I to resolve again I would 
resolve differently, but because before I resolved 
I had the difficulties on both sides more under 
my eyes ; whereas after my resolution is formed, 
and I no longer fear the difficulties I put to flight 
in forming it, those alone present themselves 
against which I have still to combat, which, 
looked at apart, seem far greater than they 
would have appeared if contrasted with the 
others. To free myself from this disquietude, 1 
have carefully to recall to my mind those other 
difficulties which I had previously set aside. 

157 It is not desirable to have earned for oneself 
a name for being suspicious and distrustfuL 
And yet men are so false and crafty, resort to so 
many deep and ambiguous devices, are so keen 
for their own interests and so careless of those 
of others, that we can hardly err in believing 
little and distrusting much. 

1 58 The advantages you draw from having gained 
a good name and reputation are seen every 
hour; and yet are as nothing compared with 



those which are unseen, and which, led by 
the good opinion that prevails concerning you, 
come of their own accord without your knowing 
why. Most truly was it said by the wise man, 
A good name is better than much riches, 

159 I find no fault with prayer, fasting, and such f' 
other devout observances as are either pre- \ 
scribed by the Church or recommended by! 
the Friars. But the best of all good observ- ^ 
ances, and in comparison wherewith all others 
are insignificant, is to wrong no man and do 
what good you can to all. 

160 Though it be certain we must all die, yet do 
we liye as though safe to live for ever. I do 
not believe the cause of this to be that the 
things before our eyes, and which strike the 
senses, move us more than those that are 
unseen and remote. For death is near; nay, 
we may say from daily experience, is present 
with us from hour to hour. The explanation 
I therefore take to be, that Nature would have 
us live as the course or true order of this 
machine our earth requires ; and not desiring 
this to remain as though dead and senseless, 
has endowed us with the peculiarity of not 



thinking of death ; since, were we to think of 
it, the world would brim over with sloth and 

i6i When I consider to what risks and perils 
of sickness, accident, violence, and numberless 
other ills, the life of man is open, and call to mind 
how many circumstances must combine through- 
out the year to ensure a good harvest, nothing 
fills me with mcH-e wonder than that any man 
should live to be old, or any year be fruitful 

162 Both in wars and in many other affairs of 
moment I have often seen preparations neglected 
under an impression that they were too late ; 
and yet it has been seen afterwards that they 
would have been in time, and that the omission 
to make them has occasioned much loss. This 
results from the movemeiU of things being 
much slower than we think for ; so that often 
what you imagined would be over in one month, 
is not ended in three or four. This is an im- 
portant reflection, and one whereof to take heed. 

163 How true the saying of the ancients that 
P^tce showts a man! For nothing so clearly 
reveals a man's qualities as to invest him with 



place and power. How many there are who 
talk well, yet know not how to act \ How 
many in the street or m the market -f^ace 
seem capiable men, who when employed are 
discovered to be shadows t 

164 Prosperity is often our worst enemy, making 
OS vicious, frivolous, and insolent ; so that to 
bear it well is a better test of a man than to 
bear adversity. 

165 It might seem from one point of view that 
a prince or master should know better than 
any one else the character of his subjects or 
servants, since their actions and behaviour 
must constantly come under his notice. But 
from another point of view the contrary holds ; 
for before others a servant will show himself 
more openly, while with his master he will 
use all craft and care to cloak his nature and 

166 Do not suppose that he who acts on the 
offensive — ^the besi^fer of a dty for. instance — 
can foresee all the methods of defence to which 
his adversary may resort To die mind of a 
skilful assailant all the ordinary remedies of 


a defender will present themselves ; but to 
the defender himself the peril and extremity 
to which he is reduced will suggest extra- 
ordinary remedies, such as another not stimu- 
lated by the same necessity would never 
think o£ 

1^7 There is nothing, I think, in the world worse 
than levity. For light men are the ready tools 
of any cause, be it ever so bad, dangerous, or 
disastrous. Flee them, therefore, as you would 

1 68 What matters it to me that he who injures 
me acts through ignorance and not from ill- 
wiU? Nay, the injuries of the ignorant are 
often the worst For ill-will has definite ends, 
and works by its own rules, and consequently 
does not always inflict the hurt it might But 
ignorance having neither rule, aim, or measure, 
behaves like the madman and deals its blows 
in the dark. 

169 Take it for certain that, whether you live 
under a conmionwealth, under an oligarchy, 
or under a sole prince, it is impossible for you 
to have everything your own way. Wherefore, 




if you be disappointed in something you had 
set your heart on, do not &dl into a passion, 
nor fly out against the government ; at least 
when your standing is such as ought to content 
you. Otherwise you bring trouble on yourself, 
and sometimes on your city ; and almost always 
And in the end that you have made your con- 
dition worse than before. 

170 It is a great happiness for princes that they ' 
can easily shift to other shoulders responsi- 
bilities properly their own. For nearly always 
we find that the mistakes they make and the 
wrongs they do, although in reality proceeding 
from themselves, are ascribed to the advice or . 
instigation of those about them. This I believe 
results not so much from any adroitness on the 
part of princes in fostering such a belief as 
from the circumstance that men of their own 
accord turn their hatred and reproaches against 
him who stands nearer them, and whom they 
think they can attadc with less difficulty. 

171 It was a saying of Duke Lodovico Sforza that 
princes and crossbows were to be tried by the 
same test Whether a crossbow were a good 
one or no could be known by the bolts it 



carried ; and the worth of a prince was seen 
in the men he sent to represent him atbroad. 
We may acccodingly infer what kind of a 
gomnaatnt we have in Florence when at one 
and the same moment we see employed as 
her ambassadors Carducci in France, Gnake- 
rotto in Venice, Messer Bardi in Siena, and 
Messer Galeotto Giugni in Ferrara t 

172 Not for their own private advant^e were 
I princes ordained, but for the common welfare ; 

and the revenues and royalties assigned them 
were meant to be used in the defence of their 
subjects and of their dominions. Hence it is 
that parsimony is more odious in a prince than 
in a private man. For the prince who accumu- 
lates wealth unduly, £^)propriates to himself 
that whereof he never was made absc^te mas- 
ter, but only steward and administrator in the 
interest of many. 

173 Prodigality in a prince is more hatefiil and 
pernicious than parsimony, since, to be prodigal, 
the prince must talse from many ; and to take 
from your subjects is more hurtfol than not to 
give. And yet it woold seem that subjects are 
better pleased with a prodigal than with a par- 


sknonious prince. The reason is, that aUhongh 1 
those to whom die prodigal giyes are few as I 
compared with those from whom he takes, of / 
whom there must needs foe many, neverthdess, j 
as I have said before, hope has so much more 1 
influence over men -fhan fear, that they sooner ' 
look to be of the few to whom is given than of 
the many jBx)m whom is taken. 

174 Do all you can to stand well with princes 
and with those in authority. For although 
you be innocent of offence, peaceful and regular 
in your life, and in no way disposed to give 
trouble, things may occur at any moment which 
will necessarily bring you under the arm of the 
ruler. Moreover, the mere belief that you are 
not acceptable to the powers that be will do 
you harm in an infinity of ways. 

175 A ruler or magistrate should take ail possible 
heed not to di^lay hostility to any man, or 
seem to seek vengeance for injmies done to him- 
self For he incurs grave blame who employs 
the public arm to redress his private wrong. 
Let him be patient, theiefois, and bide his time. 
For occasion mi^t needs come when he may 
e^ct his end with justification and without 
impeachment of rancour. 



176 Pray God that you be always found (mi the 
winning side ; for so you get credit even for 
things in which you had no part ; whereas he 
who stands with the losers has endless offences 
imputed to him whereof he is wholly guiltless. 

177 In Florence, by reason of the poor spirit of 
our citizens, it commonly happens that when a 
man has committed some violent offence against 
the state, no attempt is made to punish him, but 
all efforts are used to let him escape scot-free, 
on his engaging to disarm and not to renew his 
misconduct These are not ways to restrain the 
insolent, but to change lambs into lions. 

178 Trades and industries are at their best when 
they are not yet generally understood to be 
profitable. When seen by all to be so, they 
fall off ; because, from many resorting to them, 
the competition prevents them from being any 
longer lucrative. In all things it profits to be 
up betimes. 

179 In my youth I made light of such superficial 
accomplishments as dancing, singing, and play- 
ing ; nay, even of writing a hit hand, knowing 
how to ride, how to dress becomingly, and all 



other like arts, which savour more of show than 
substance. Since then, however, I have seen 
reason to change my mind. For though it were 
doubtless a mistake to waste too much time 
in cultivating these graces, or to make a lad's 
entire training consist in acquiring them to per- 
fection, still I have found by experience that 
these gifts and the knack of doing everything 
well confer honour and reputation even upon 
men of good birth ; and that too in so marked a 
degree that we may say he lacks something who 
is without them. Moreover, excellence in matters 
of this sort opens the way to the favour of 
princes, and offers a beginning or occasion to 
him who is a proficient therein to obtain high 
and lucrative preferment. For the world and 
its rulers are what they are, and not what they 
should be. 

180 Wars have no greater peril than that he who 
has just entered upon them should take their 
success for certain. For however safe and easy 
t they may seem, they are subject to a thousand 
accidents, and these will lead to still greater 
disorder if he whom it concerns is not ready to 
put forth both strength and courage ; as he will 
be where preparations have been made from the 




first on the footing that difficulties will have to 
be encountered. 

i8i For eleveni successive years I was engaged in 
governing for the Church, and so much to the 
satisfaction both of my employers and of those 
over whom I ruled, that had it not been for 
the events which took place in Rome and Flor- 
ence in the year 1527, 1 might have continued 
to govern for a great while longer. During 
aU this time I found that nothing strength- 
ened me so much in my position as to seem 
indifferent whether I was employed or no. For 
on this footing, without fear or favour, I did 
whatever was suitable to the office I held ; and 
this gave me such a reputation as of itself 
helped me more, and more honourably, than 
any blandishments, interest, or address I could 
have used. 

182 I have noticed that men of great sagacity, 
when they have to resolve on any business of 
moment, almost invariably fall to distinguish- 
ing the various courses the thing may take, 
and after considering two or three probable 
contingencies, form their final resolve on the 
footing that some one of these will happen. 



Be warned that this is a dangerous method 
to follow ; for often, and indeed almost always, 
some other contingency, not taken into account 
in your deliberations and not met by your 
resolve, will turn up. Accordingly, it is your 
safer plan, in resolving, to assume that things 
you think unlikely may well come about, and 
never where you can help it to limit the scope 
of your deliberations. 

1 83 A wise captain, if not constrained by necessity, 
will never bring his army into battle unless he 
see that it will fight to great advantage ; for 
the issue is too much in the hands of Fortune, 
and defeat ttoo serious a risk. 

184 I would not have men shut out from ordinary 
matters of talk, nor from a pleasant and loving 
familiarity in their intercourse with one another. 
But I maintain it to be a prudent course not to 
speak of your own private affairs unless obliged, 
and then to say no more about them than is 
needed for the argument or object you have 
in hand, keeping everything else to yourself. 
To do otherwise may be more agreeable, but it 
is more useful to do this. 

185 Men always praise lavish spending in others, 

% and 




and generosity and magnificence in their mode 
of living. Yet most men in their own case 
pursue a contrary course. You should there- 
fore measure your outlay by your means, and 
by the advantage you may reasonably and 
honourably draw from it ; never allowing your- 
self to be led into extravagance by the opinions 
and talk of the vulgar, or by the hope to gain 
i credit and approval from those who do not 
I sincerely commend what they do not themselves 

1 86 You cannot adhere always to one fixed and 
unbending rule ; so that if it be often dis- 
advantageous to be too open in yotir talk even 
with friends — I mean in matters which should 
be kept secret — on the other hand, to let your 
friends perceive that you are keeping some- 
thing from them is a sure way to make them 
do the like by you. For since nothing gains 
you another's confidence so much as his belief 
that you confide in him, your reticence towards 
others may deprive you of opportunities of 
learning from them. Here, therefore, as in 
so many other cases, the character of men, 
of times, and of circumstances has to be taken 
into account. To this end discretion is needed, 



which, if it be not given us by nature, can 
seldom be sufficiently learned from experience, 
from books never. 

187 Be sure that he who conducts his affairs at 
hap-hazard will come to a hap-hazard end. 
The true course is to note, examine, and weigh 
all things, even the most insignificant. But if 
even when we do this, we find it hard to 
manage our business to our liking, think how 
it Ihust fare with those who let everything drift 

188 The further you depart from the mean course 
in striving to avoid some extreme, the more 
likely are you to fall into the extreme you 
would avoid, or into some other to the full as 
mischievous ; and the more intent you are on 
reaping the fruits of what you actually possess, 
the sooner will both the possession and your 
enjoyment of it come to an end. For instance, 
where a people is in possession of freedom, the 
more they seek to use that freedom, the sooner 
will they lose it, and the more speedy will be 
their fall under a despotism, or under some 
other form of government no better than a 




189 All cities, states, and governments are mortal, 
since either by nature or accident everything 
in this world must some time have an end. 
Accordingly, the citizen who happens to be 
living when his country is in its decline should 
not so much lament over its unhappy fortimes 
as over his own. For his country only suffers 
what it was fated to suffer. His is the infelicity 
of being bom at the moment when his country 
has to fulfil its doom. 

190 It is usual to comfort those who have not 
succeeded to their wishes by telling them to 
look behind them and not before; by which is 
meant that they should consider how many 
more there are who are worse off than there 
are who are better off than they. This is very 
excellent advice, and should influence men to 
be contented with their lot. Yet it is not so 
e^sy to follow. For Nature has so placed our 
eyes, that, without straining, we cannot look 
elsewhere than before us. 

191 We cannot blame those who are slow in 
resolving. For although occasions do some- 
times come wherein it is necessary to resolve 
quickly, still, as a rule, he makes more mistakes 



who resolves quickly than he who resolves 
slowly. What is in the highest degree to be 
blamed is slowness in execution ailer a resolve 
is taken ; for this^ it may be affirmed, always 
hurts, and never helps except by accident. I 
mention this that you may be on your guard 
against it; for I see that many, either from 
indolence and to avoid trouble,-or from other 
causes, are guilty of this error. 

192 In matters of business take this as a maxim, 
that it is not enough to give things their be- 
ginning, direction, or impulse ; we must also 
follow them up, and never slacken our efforts 
until they are brought to a conclusion. Whoso 
conducts business on this system contributes 
in no small measure to its settlement ; while he 
who follows a different plan will often assume 
things to be ended which in truth are hardly 
begun, and the difficulties whereof are not yet 
reached ; such are the heedlessness, futility, 
and perversity of men, and such the lets and 
hindrances that things present in their own 
nature. Follow this rule; the doing so has 
sometimes gained me great honour, as a 
contrary course will bring him who adopts it 
great disgrace. 



193 Any one who engages in secret practices 
against the state must above all things be 
careful not to communicate by letters ; for 
these are often intercepted, and furnish proof 

. which cannot be controverted. And though 
nowadays there be many cautious methods of 
writing, there have also been discovered many 
aids for their interpretation. It is far safer to 
communicate through those of your household 
than by letter ; and for this reason it is most 
difficult and dangerous for men of inferior rank 
to embark in such designs, seeing they have 
few whom they can employ, and in these can 
place little trust. For there is small risk and 
great gain in betraying a private man to please 
a prince. 

194 Though we must be cautious in our under- 
takings, we are not therefore to conjure up so 
many difficulties in respect of them as shall 
make us stop short from thinking success hope- 
less. On the contrary, we are to reflect that 
greater facilities may disclose themselves in 
the execution of our designs, and that as we 
proceed obstacles may disappear of themselves. 
This is undeniable, and every one who has 
business to transact has daily proof of it. Had 



Pope Clement borne this in mind, he would 
often have brought his schemes to a speedier 
and more honourable issue. 

195 The courtier who would obtain from his 
prince favours or preferment for himself or 
friends, must not make too frequent direct 
demands ; but should watch and wait occasion 
for adroitly suggesting or introducing his busi- 
ness ; and when the occasion comes, should 
profit by it at once, and not allow it to escape. 
Whoso acts in this way will effect his end with 
£ai more ease to himself and far less annoyance 
to the prince ; and after obtaining one favour 
will remain in a better and freer position for 
obtaining a second. 

196 When men see you in such straits that you 
are of necessity compelled to fall in with their 
wishes, they hold you cheap and make little 
account of you. For regard to their own 
interest or indulgence of their spite has 
commonly more weight with them than the 
thought of what is right, or of your deserts, 
or of their obligations to you, or that it was 
perhaps through them, or to help them in their 
distress, that you have been brought low. Flee 



this humiliation therefore as you would flee fire. 
Many are the exiles from their country who 
never need have been so had they taken this 
counsel to heart For it does not so much help 
a man that it was from his fidelity to this or the 
other prince that he has been driven from his 
home, as it hurts him that the prince, seeing 
him an outlaw, should say, ^* Without me this 
fellow can do nothing,*' and accordingly should 
treat him as he pleases, without regard to his 

197 Let him who has to treat with several on 
matters that raise many questions and difficul- 
ties be carefiil, if the case admits of it, to take 
each point apart, and say nothing of the second 
until the first be settled. For so it may happen 
that those who oppose him on one point will 
not go against him on another ; whereas, were 
all the points to be taken in connection, every 
man who objected to any one of them would 
resist him upon all. Had Piero Soderini under- 
stood this, he would have succeeded when he 
sought to re-establish the tribunal of the Qua- 
rantiOy and with the Quaraniia might perhaps 
have restored the popular government This 
hint as to getting men to swallow what is dis- 


tasteful in small morsels applies often in private 
affairs as well as in public 

198 Be sure that in all business, whether private 
or public, the secret of success lies in knowing 
how to use opportunity ; and that whether you 
shall prosper or fail in one and the same trans- 
action will depend upon your managing it in 
one way or in another. 

199 When you have any object in view that you 
would conceal from others, or would have others 
believe different from what it is, endeavour to 
show them by the strongest and gravest reasons 
you can use that you intend the contrary. For 
when men imagine you to be convinced that 
reason favours a particular course, they readily 
persuade themselves that your resolves will tally 
with what your reason dictates. 

200 To get support for some scheme of your own 
contriving from one who might otherwise oppose 
it, a good way is to commit its conduct to him, 
and make him, as it were, sponsor for its adop- :*s 
don and success. Light men especially are often 
won over by this device. For many oi them 
are so tickled by vanity as to prefer the like 



empty honours to the solid advantages which 
it should be their object to seek 

201 It seems a harsh and ill-natured thing to say — 
: would to God it were untrue I — ^but there are 

more bad than good men in this world, and 
more especially wherever there comes to be a 
question as to property or power. Accordingly, 
except in the case of those whom, either from 
your own experience of them or on thoroughly 
trustworthy report, you know to be good, you 
never can be mistaken in keeping a sharp look- 
out when you are dealing with others. This, 
indeed, must be done discreetly, and so as not 
to gain you a name for being suspicious. But 
the substantial point is to trust none unless you 
can do so safely. 

202 When a man takes revenge in such a way 
that the person hurt knows not whence the 
injury comes, it cannot but be said that what 
he does is done to wreak his rancour and 
hatred. The more generous course is to work 
openly, so that all may know who it is that 
inflicts the injury. He will then be thought 
to have acted not so much from hatred and 
vindictiveness as to clear his honour, that is, 



to be known as one whose spirit will not suffer 
him to put up with an affront. 

203 Princes should guard against allowing their . 
subjects too near an approach to freedom. I 
For men instinctively desire to be free, and ' 
it is the wont of all of them never to rest 
contented with their condition, but always to 
be pushing forward from the point at which 
they find themselves. And this desire stirs 
them far more than the memory of the plea- 
sant life they led under their prince, or of the 
benefits they received at his hands. 

204 Do what you may, you cannot prevent your, 
subordinates plundering. I have been very 
strict in my own conduct, but in spite of all 
my care, and the good example I set them, 
I have never been able to put a stop to the\ 
dishonesty of the governors and other officers ) 
I had under me. One cause of this is, that 
money covers everything, and that, as we now 
live, the rich man is more esteemed than the 
virtuous. What makes matters worse is the folly 
and ingratitude of princes, who tolerate evil- 
doers, and treat him who has served them well 
no better than him who has served them badly. 



205 Twice I have held high command in armies 
employed on most important enterprises, and 
the lesson taught me by my experience has 
been, that if what is written concerning the 
military system of the ancients be true, as to 
a great extent I believe it to be, our modem 
system, as compared with it, is a mere shadow. 
For the captains of our days, lacking both 
eneigy and skill, and using neither artifice or 
stratagem, march at a snail's pace along a beaten 
track. Accordingly, when Signor Prospero 
Colonna, who commanded on the first expedition 
in which I took part, observed to me that I had 
not served in any previous campaign, I think I 
gave him a good answer when I said, '* Nor in 
this campaign have I learned much." 

206 I have no mind to discuss whether it is 
better for our bodies that we be guided by 
the physicians, or, as the Romans for a long 
while did, dispense with them altogether. Of 
this, however, I am certain, that whether 
from the difficulty of the art itself or from 
want of care in the practitioner (who ought 
to be most vigilant, and to note with the nicest 
accuracy the slightest symptoms of his patient), 
the doctors of our times know not how to treat 



any but the most ordinary ailments, the highest 
reach of their skill being the cure of a double 
tertian ; while if the case present any unusual 
complications, they deal with it in the dark 
and at random. Moreover, from his eagerness 
to make himself a name, and from the jealousies 
prevailing in the profession, the physician is 
a most odious creature, without conscience or 
scruple, who, confident that his blunders can 
hardly be brought home to him, whether to 
exalt himself or to discredit his rivals, every 
day subjects our bodies to his audacious ex- 

207 Of astrology, that is to say, the science which 
professes to foretell future events, it were folly 
to speak. Either the science is not a true one, 
or all the circiunstances needed for its exercise 
cannot be ascertained, or else the human mind 
is unable to fathom its depths. But the sum 
of the matter is, that to hope to know the future 
by its means is a dream. The astrologers do 
not understand what they themselves say, and 
are never right but by accident ; so that were 
you to take the prognostic of any one of them 
and the random guess of any other man, the latter 
were as likely as the former to turn out true. 



208 The science of the law stands now on this 
footing, that if in the trial of a cause there be 
urged on one side some forcible argument, and 
on the other the authority of a doctor who has 
written on the subject, the latter will weigh more 
with the j udge. Whence it follows that practising 
lawyers must acquaint themselves with all that 
every one has written, and in consequence that 
the time which should be. devoted to searching 
into the reason of the thing is wasted in perusing 
books ; and this with such fatigue and weariness 
both of mind and body, that the profession of 
the law has come more to resemble the labour 
of the mechanic than the deliberation of the sage. 

209 I think the decisions of the Turks, being 
delivered promptly and almost ofF-hand, are 
less objectionable than the methods of deciding 
in common use among Christians, the tardiness 
whereof occasions so much expense and hard- 
ship to suitors, that he who wins a cause might 
perhaps suffer less were judgment given against 
him on the first day of hearing. Besides, if we 
assume the decisions of the Turks to be given 
entirely in the dark, the chances are that, taking 
them altogether, one half of them will be justly 
decided ; so that, on the whole, the number of 



unrighteous judgments will be no greater than 
it is with us by reason of the ignorance or dis- 
honesty of our judges. 

210 "Little and good" says the proverb ; and it 
must needs be that he who talks or writes much 
shall write or talk much trash ; whereas a few 
subjects may all be well condensed and digested. 
It might have been better therefore to have 
gathered the cream of these counsels than to 
have collected so much crude material 

211 That spirits do exist may, I believe, be affirmed. 
I mean what we call spirits, that is to say, certain 
airy beings conversing familiarly with men. 
For I myself have had such proof of their exis- 
tence as makes it seem to me past a doubt. 
But what they really are, and what their nature ^ 
is, I take to be as little understood by him who -^ 
persuades himself he knows, as by him who has 
never given the subject a thought. These mani- 
festations, as well as the faculty of foretelling 
the future, which we sometimes see exercised as 
an art, and sometimes inspired under a divine 
frenzy, are secret powers of Nature, or rather of 
that higher agent by whom all things are set in 
motion, revealed to him, but hidden from us, 



and so hidden that the minds of men cannot 
attain to thenu 

212 Of the three methods of governing, to wit, by 
one, by a few, or by many, I believe that for 
Florence the second were the worst, as not 
natural to our city, and no more acceptable there 

^ than a tyranny, while the rivalries and dissen- 
sions attending it would give rise to the very same 
mischiefs that a tyranny produces ; nay, might 
divide the city sooner, without effecting any of 
the good results a tyrant might bring about. 

213 Reasons to the contrary stand in the way of 
every conclusion a man can come to, and of 
all his efforts to carry them out. For there is 
nothing so perfect as not to have some blemish, 
nor anything so evil as not to be tempered by 
some good. Whence it happens that many 

^ men, being perplexed by every trifling difficulty, 
rest always in suspense. These are the persons 
we speak of as over-scrupulous, because they 
entertain doubts about ever3rthing. We ought 
not to live thus, but, after balancing the dis- 
advantages on both sides, should accept those 
that weigh least, remembering that no course we 
can take will in all respects be dear and perfect. 



214 All men have defects, some more, some 
fewer. It follows that no friendship, fellow- 
ship, or dependent relation can endure unless 
allowances be made on both sides. We ought 
therefore to understand one another, and re- 
membering that change will never free us from 
all imperfections, but only introduce us to new 
and perhaps greater, should try to endure one 
another. Let us be careful, however, to be 
compliant in such matters only as can be put 
up with, and are in themselves of no great 

215 How many things are blamed when done 
which, could we but see what must have 
followed had they not been done, would have 
been praised ! How many things, on the other 
hand, are praised which, under like circum- 
stances, had been blamed ! Be not hasty, 
therefore, either to commend or condemn on 
a mere superficial view of things ; but if you 
would form a just and solid judgment, look 
carefully below what appears to the eye. 

216 In this world no man can choose the station 

into which he shall be bom, bis surroundings, 

or the measure of fortune he is to enjoy. 




Wherefore, in commending or condenming, we 
are not to consider in what circumstances 
we find a man, but the manner in which he 
bears himself therein. For blame or praise 
should be awarded according as men behave, 
and not depend on the condition in which they 
are placed ; as in a tiieatre we do not think 
more of him who plays the part of king or lord 
than of him who plays the part of a servant, 
but look only to the merit of the performance. 

217 Let not tiie fear of making enemies or of 
causing displeasure to others keep you from 
doing what it behoves you to do. For to do 
his duty brings a man reputation, and this will 
help him far more than the making a few 
enemies will hurt him. In this world we must 
either be dead outright or sometimes do things 
that give offence. But tiie same tact which 
guides us in bestowing pleasure is shown in 
knowing when and how to do things displeas- 
ing ; that is to say, that Aey be done on just 
occasion, at fit season, with modesty, for honour- 
able causes, and in creditable ways. 

218 In this world of ours they manage their 
affairs well who keep their own interest always 



in sight, and measure every action by this 
gauge. Mistakes will, however, be made by 
those who do not rightly apprehend wherein 
their true interest lies ; who, for instance, think 
it always to consist in some pecuniary gain 
rather than in honour, and in knowing how to 
maintain their credit and good name. 

219 If he who has been the first to propose a 
certain course, or has given an opinion in its 
favour, should for any reason change his mind 
before the thing be done, it were honesty in 
him to say so openly. Nevertheless, where it 
is not in his power, or does not directly concern 
him to make the correction, he will better con- 
suit his interest by holding his peace. For by 
unsaying what he has once said he will only 
injure his credit, since either what he urged at 
first or what he urges afterwards must be con- 
tradicted by the result Whereas, if he stand 
by his original opinion, and this, as may happen, 
turn out true, he will be judged to have advised 

220 I reckon it the duty of a good citizen, should 1 
his country have fallen into the hands of a 1 
tyrant, to endeavour to live with him on such a ] 



footing that he can venture to persuade him to 
good courses or dissuade him fr«n evil. For 
surely it is for the interest of a city that worthy 
men should at all times exercise influence. And 
although the ignorant and fanatic^ pc^iticians 
of Florence have constantly judged otherwise, 
they might have recognised how disastrous 
would have been the government of the Medici 
had there been none about them but fools or 

22 1 When enemies who usually have be^ le^fued 
together against you chance to £^11 out, to atteck 
one of them in the hope to dispose of hkn sepa- 
rately is often the occasion for all to unite afresh. 
It behoves you, therefore, to note cjU-efuily what 
the differences that have arisen between them 
are, together with all the Oliver conditions and 
circumstances in which they stand, that you 
may judge whether it is more for your interest 
to single out one of them for attack, or to stand 
aloof and look on while they fight it out among 



222 If leisure alone breed not fantastical humours, 
without it these can hardly come into exist- 

223 Whoso seeks honour and feme in his native 
city, not by fection or usurpation, but by ^stfiyv^gT: 
to be accounted wise and able, and by rendering 
good service to his country, is a praiseTO^hy] ■ 
and useful citizen. Would to God our republic 
overflowed with ambition such as this ! But 
pernicious are they who make self-aggran- 
disement their sole end and aim. For he who 
does so is held by no tie whether of justice or 
honour, and will upset everything to reach his 

224 He who is not in truth a good citizen cannot 
long be thought so. Wherefore, though a man 
might desire rather to seem than to be good, he 
must strive to be so in reality; otherwise he 
will not in the end seem so. 

225 Men are naturally inclined to good ; so that 
when they draw no gain or advantage from evil, 
good is more pleasing than evil to all of them. 
But because their nature is frail, and the occasions 
inviting to evil infinite, they are readily turned 



from their natural bent by self-interest. For 
which reason, not to do violence to their nature 
but to maintain its authority, wise legislators 
have contrived a spur and a curb in the shape 
of reward and punishment ; and unless these 

' be M jise in a commonwealth, few indeed of its 
citizens will be found good. Whereof we have 

. • daily ptogf m Florence. 

226 Should we read or hear it said of any one 
that, without advantage or profit to himself he 
preferred evil to good, we should have to call 
him rather a beast than a man, as lacking an 
instinct common to all men by nature. 

227 Great defects and inconveniences are inse- 
parable from a free government And yet the 
wise and good of our city approve it as a less 

228 We may take it, then, that in Florence he who 
is a wise is also a good citizen ; since were he 
not good, he would not be wise. 

229 That generosity which pleases the multitude 
is very seldom found in the truly wise. Where- 
fore he who seems generous is less to be com- 
mended than he who seems discreet 



230 In commonwealths the people love a just 
citizen. A wise citizen they rather respect 
than love. 

231 Alas 1 how many more reasons there are for 
believing that our republic must soon fall into 
decay than there are to persuade us that it will 
endure for a great while 1 

232 Whoso has sound sens&^an make great use 
of another who has fine parts ; far greater than 
that other can make of him. 

233 It does not conflict with the equality of a free 
government that one citizen should enjoy greater 
reputation than another, so long as this springs 
from the general love and reverence wherewith 
he is regarded, and it is in the power of the 
people to withhold such distinction at their 
pleasure. Nay, without similar distinctions a 
republic can hardly be maintained. Well were 
it for Florence had her fools learned this 
lesson ! 

234 He who has to exercise authority over others 
must not be too nice or scrupulous in issuing 
his commands. I do not say that he is to 



lay aside all scruples, but that in excess they 
are hurtfuL 

335 It profits much that you conduct your affairs 
secretly, but much more that you contrive not 
to seem secret to your friends. For many 
men, when they see you unwilling to impart 
your affairs to them, look on it as a slight and 
feel affronted. 

236 Three things I would willingly see before I 
die. And yet, tiiough I were to live to a great 
age, I fear I shall see none of them. I desire 
to see a well-ordered republic established in 
Florence; Italy free from all her barbarian 
invaders ; and the world delivered from the 
tyranny of these rascally priests. 

237 Whosoever is not well secured by treaty, or 
by being himself so strong that in no case 
can he have ground for fear, acts unwisely if he 
stands neutral in the wars of other states ; since 
in doing so he will disoblige the vanquished and 
will rest a prey to the victor. And let him who 
disregards reasons look to the example of our 
own city, and to what befell it fh)m remaining 
neutral in the war which Pope Julius and the 



Catholic King waged against King Louis of 

238 If you are resolved to remain neutral, at least 
arrange terms of neutrality with the side that 
desires it. For this in itself is a way of taking 
part with that side, which, if victorious, may 
perhaps be withheld from harming you by some 
sense of obligation or scruple of honour. 

239 Far higher satisfaction will be foimd in con- 
trolling than in gratifying the passions. For 
such gratification is brie^ and of the body ; 
whereas the satisfaction we feel when passion 
has been subdued is lasting, and is of the mind 
and conscience. 

240 A good name is more to be desired than 
riches ; but since without riches a good name 
can now-a-days hardly be preserved, worthy 
men should seek them, not in excess, but so 
far as may be needed for acquiring and main- 
taining credit and influence. 

241 We citizens of Florence are mostly poor ; yet 
from our manner of living we all greatly desire 
riches. For which reason we can hardly pre- 


serve the freedom of our city ; since this appe- 
tite makes us pursue our own selfish advantage 
without thought or heed for the public glory 
or honour. 

242 The blood of citizens is the mortar wherewith 
the governments of tyrants are cemented. Let 
every man therefore do what he can that no 
edifice of this sort be built in his city. 

243 Citizens who live in a republic wherein the 
government, though tainted with some defects, 
is still a tolerable one, should not seek to 
change it; since almost always the change 
will be for the worse. For it is not in the 
power of him who makes changes to secure 
that the new government shall exactly conform 
to his intentions and wishes. 

244 Most of the misdeeds done in cities by the 
great have their origin in suspicion. Where- 
fore, when once a man has grown great, a city 
has no cause to thank those who without good 
occasion conspire against him. For this in- 
creases his suspicions, and in consequence the 
harshness of his tyranny. 

245 With the poor malignity may easily be bred 



by misforttine. With the rich it oftenest comes 
by nature. As a rule, therefore, it is more to 
be condemned in the rich than in the poor. 

246 Whosoever, whether prince or private man, 
would persuade another of what is false through 
an envoy or agent, should first deceive that 
agent For he who believes his principal to 
have a thing at heart will act and speak with 
far more energy and eflScacy than if he knew 
his mission to be merely a feint. 

247 Affairs of the first importance often depend 
for their success on our doing or not doing 
something that seems of little moment For 
which reason we should be cautious and cir- 
cumspect even in trifles. 

248 'Tis hard to make, but easy enough to mar 
a fine fortune. He therefore who finds himself 
in the enjoyment of a good, should do his best 
not to let it slip through his fingers. 

249 'Twere folly to be angry with those against 
whom by reason of their great station you 
cannot hope to take vengeance. Accordingly, 
though you know yourself to be foully wronged 
by them, you must endure and dissemble. 



This, I say, is great good fortune. But it is a 
finer thing to use this good fortune worthily : I 
mean by extending mercy and pardon. For 
this is proper to a generous and lofty souL 

257 These maxims are rules that may be written 
in books ; but the exceptional cases, which, rest- 
ing upon other grounds, must be dealt with 
otherwise, scarce admit of being recorded else- 
where than on the tablets of discretion. 

258 That place shows a man was a saying much 
applauded by the ancients, not only because 
place makes it plain whether a man's capacity 
be great or small, but also because power and 
freedom from restraint display more folly the 
bent of his mind and demonstrate what his 
true character is. For the higher the station a 
man fills, the less check or hindrance has he in 
indulging his natural temper. 

259 See that you fall not into dis&vour with him 
who is set over you in your city, nor assume 
the mode and tenor of your life to be of such 
a sort that you can count on never coming into 
his hands. For a thousand imforeseen cases 
may arise wherein you will be compelled to 



have recourse to him. Conversely, when one in 
authority desires to chastise or revenge himself 
on an inferior, let him not act hastily, but await 
time and occasion. For if only he go warily, an 
opportunity will surely come when, without dis- 
playing rancour or passion, he may satisfy his 
desire either wholly or in part 

260 The ruler of a city or people, if he would have 
them under good control, must be strict in 
punishing all transgressors, but may use dis- 
cretion as to the degree of his punishments. 
For save as regards atrocious crimes, and those 
in respect of which an example has to be made, 
commonly it is enough that punishment be 
inflicted in the proportion of three parts out 
of four of the appointed penalty. 

26 1 Were servants reasonable and grateful, it were 
fit and proper that their master should be as 
bountiful to them as his means admit. But 
since their nature is conmionly the reverse of 
all this, so that when they have grown rich in 
your service they either leave or importune you, 
it is better to be somewhat close-handed in your 
dealings with them, raising their hopes, but not 
satisfying them further than may prevent them 
giving way to despair. 



262 The above maxim is to be sq observad that 
the name you get for not being liberal shall not 
cause you (o b^ shunned ; juad this you may ^sily 
avoid by extraordinary liberality Jn one or two 
cases. For hope ha^ naturally such dominion 
oyer men, that a singjie i|)stance,of munificence 
makes a deeper iijupreiision and helps -you more 
than a hundred instances of services insuffi- 
ciently requited hurts you. 

263 Men have a better memory for injuries than 
for benefits ; and even when they do remember 
a benefit, think of it as less than in truth it was, 
while they persuade themselves that their deserts 
are far greater thati they are in reality. The 
contratry holds as regards injuries, for these vex 
us more than they reasonably should. Accord- 
ingly, other conditions being th^ san^, beware 
of doing one m^n a pleasure whic)^ must neces- 
sarily afford e^ual displeasure to another; for 
according to the rule above stated, you wiU lose 
on the whole more tha^ you gain. 

264 You may count more safely on one who has 
need of you, or who for the time has the same 
ends to serve, than on one whom you have 
benefited. For, as a rule, men are ungrateful. 



If you would not be deceived, make your cal- 
culations on. this footing. 

365 I have noted down the foregoing maxims that 
you may learn how to live and to rate things at 
their true worth, not to withdraw you from con- 
ferring benefits. For not only is beneficence a 
noble impulse, and one that springs from a gene- 
rous nature, but it may also chance to be re- 
quited, and that in a degree to make amends for 
many instances of ingratitude. Nay, it may be 
believed that the Power which is above us takes 
delight in generous actions, and therefore will 
not permit them to remain always unrewarded. 

266 Endeavour to make friends, since they will be 
of service to you at times, in places, and in cir- 
cumstances in which you least expect it. This 
is a trite maxim, but none can rightly estimate 
its value who has not in some extreme need 
himself experienced its truth. 

267 Frank sincerity pleases all men, and is a 
noble quality, though sometimes hurtful to him 
who practises it. Simulation, on the other hand, 
is useful ; nay, from the perverse nature of men is 
often necessary, odious and unseemly though it 




be. I know not therefore which of the two we 
should prefer. I can believe, however, that a 
man ought habitually to use the one without 
wholly renouncing the other. I mean that in 
everyday affairs he should adhere to the former, 
so as to obtain a name for openness and candour ; 
and yet, on certain rare and urgent occasions 
should resort to deception. When a man lives 
thus, his simulation is the more serviceable and 
the more likely to succeed, since his reputation 
for its opposite makes him the more readily 

268 For the above reasons, while I commend him 
not who passes his whole life in simulating and 
dissembhng, I excuse him who only occasionally 
resorts to these arts. 

269 If you would not have it known that you have 
done or sought to do some particular thing, even 
when it has been all but ascertained and pub- 
lished, be sure that it will always be usefid to 
deny it For a strenuous denial, though it may 
not convince him who believes or has proof to the 
contrary, will at least stagger and perplex him. 

270 'Tis incredible how much it profits a ruler that 



he observe secrecy in the conduct of his affairs. 
For besides that were his designs known they 
might be forestalled or thwarted, the very fact 
that men are in ignorance of them keeps them 
in suspense and wonder, and causes them to 
watch his actions so closely that his slightest 
gestures give occasion for infinite comment ; 
all which gains him immense reputation. Who- 
soever, therefore, is in the position I speak of 
should accustom himself and his ministers 
to be silent not only as to matters that it is 
for his interest to conceal, but likewise as to all 
those which it is not for his advantage to make 

271 This maxim as to not imparting^ your inten- 
tions unless from necessity is of general applica- 
tion, because, in addition to all the other injuries 
it may do you to have your secrets known, you 
become the slave of those to whom you confide 
them. But if constrained by necessity to impart 
your secrets to any man, see that you leave him 
as little time as possible to think them over. 
For where much time is given a thousand evil 
thoughts suggest themselves. 

272 "^o S^^^ ^^^^ ^^^ ^^^ ^^^ to 1^5 feelings, 



whether of pleasure or discontent, is a great 
ease to a man's heart. Still it is dangerous ; 
wherefore, however hard it may be, it is wise 
to abstain. 

273 When ambassador in Spain at the court of 
that wise and renowned king, Ferdinand of 
Aragon, I observed that when he desired to 
engage in any new enterprise, or to carry out 
any other matter of importance, it was not his 
custom first to publish and afterwards to justify 
his intentions, but to do exactly the reverse. 
For before it was known that he meditated any 
measure, he contrived to have it everywhere 
proclaimed that, for such and such reasons, 
here was a thing it behoved the king to take 
in hand. Accordingly, when afterwards he dis- 
closed that he meant to do what was recognised 
by all to be necessary and right, his resolve was 
accepted with incredible applause and favour. 

274 Even they who, ascribing everything to 
prudence and caf^city, would seek to shut 
out fortune, cannot deny it to be a happy 
chance that opportunities should at the right 
moment present themselves for displaying to 
advantage those talents or qualities wherein 



a man excels. For we see from experience 
that the same qualities are differently esteemed 
at different times, and that things which are 
pleasing if done to-day may displease if done 

275 I would not discourage those who, kindled 
by love of their country, are ready to risk their 
lives to restore its freedom. But this I do say^ 
that he is unwise who for his own ends seeks 
to change the government of our city. For 
this is a perilous task, and experience shows 
that but few such attempts succeed. And even 
when they are successful, it rarely happens 
that you gain by the change anything like the 
advantages you looked for, while you are sure 
to be involved in endless trouble and anxiety, 
having constantly to fear that those whom you 
have driven away may return and overthrow 

276 Labour not to effect changes that only subr 
stitute one face for another. For what profits 
it if you suffer at the hands of Martin the very 
same wrc»igs and injuries which before ypa had 
to endure from Peter? What satisfaction, for 
instance, do you find in seeing Messer Goro 



make his exit, iHien anodier of the same quality 
enters in his itxmi ? 

277 Whoso would meddle in plots should bear in 
mind that nothing is more fatal to their success 
than the endeavour to make them too safe. 
For to this end longer time is needed, more 
men must be privy, more interests must be 
considered ; all of which circumstances give 
occasion for your scheme being discovered. 
Nay, it may further be believed that Fortune, 
within whose control such matters lie, is dis- 
pleased with him who seeks to withdraw him- 
self from her power and to make himself secure. 
I maintain, therefore, that it is better to run 
some risk in carrying out your plot than to be 
too careful of safety. 

278 Draw not where you have no assets, nor dis- 
count prospective gains, for oflen these may 
not be realised ; and we see the common cause 
of the bankruptcy of great merchants to be 
this, that anticipating large future returns, they 
draw bills of exchange bearing high interest 
which have to be met at a fixed date. But 
frequently either the expected profits fall short, 
or are deferred beyond the time intended, so 



that the enterprise you had embarked in as 
advantageous becomes your ruin. 

279 Distrust those who are constantly telling you 
that they have quitted public life through love 
of peace and quiet, and because they are weary 
of ambition. For nearly always they have far 
other thoughts in their hearts, and are brought 
to this retirement either through pique or from 
folly, and against their desire. And of this we 
have daily proof. For no sooner does the 
narrowest opening for a return to greatness 
offer itself to men of this sort, than relinquish- 
ing their so much lauded tranquillity, they throw 
themselves upon it as greedily as fire seizes 
upon flax. 

280 Should your affairs have fallen into disorder, 
consider and weigh the matter well before you 
go to prison. For though your case be a hard 
one to clear up, it is incredible how many things 
a diligent and zealous advocate will think of to 
effect this end ; and the smallest chink will let 
in a flood of light. 

281 Like other men, I have desired honours and 
preferments, and hitherto, thanks to God and 



my good fortune, I have obtained them beyond 
my hopes. Yet never have I fic^nd in any of 
these things the satisfaction I had looked for. 
A warning to him who well considers it to stay 
his pursuit of things all men covet 

282 Great station is coveted by all, because what- 
soever is good in it shows on the sur£3u:e, while 
the evil is hid below. Were any one to sec it 
as it is, his desire to possess it might perhaps 
be less. For of a truth it is replete with 
dangers, rivalries, endless troubles and annoy- 
ances. But what makes it sought after, even by 
pure hearts, is the longing we all have to surpass 
our fellows, for this reason more than any other, 
that in nothing else can we resemble God. 

283 Things we do not anticipate move us beyond 
comparison more than those that arc foreseen. 
Wherefore I pronounce that to be a great and 
resolute spirit which stands undismayed amid 
sudden dangers and disasters ; for this in my 
judgment is the rarest excellence. 

284 When a thing is done, could we but know 
what would have followed had it been left un- 
done, or had the contrary been done, we should 



find that m^iy things men blame or praise 
deserve a very different judgment 

285 There can be no doubt that the older men 
grow, the more prone they are to avarice. The 
cause is said to be that their minds lose their 
vigour. I think this reason insufficient, since 
he must be a very weak-minded old man who 
does not see that our needs lessen as our years 
mtdtiply. Moreover, I note that in old men, at 
any rate in many of them, luxury (so far as 
appetite goes, though not as regards enjoyment), 
cruelty, and other vices are amstantly on the 
increase. The explanation may perhaps be that 
the longer a man lives the more he becomes 
used to the things of this world, and as a con- 
sequence the more he loves them. 

286 It is due to the same cause that the older 
a man grows the more grievous it appears to 
him to die, and the more it would seem from 
hb acts and thoughts as though he felt safe to 
live for ever. 

287 It is commonly believed, and we often see 
instances of it, that gains ill-gotten are not 
transmitted beyond a third generation. St. 



Augustine says that God pennits their enjoy- 
ment to him who acquires them in return for 
whatsoever good he may have done during his 
lifetime, but that they never pass much further 
by reason of the sentence God has pronounced 
against wealth dishonestly come by. I once 
told my father that I thought there was another 
explanation, namely, that he who acquires 
wealth, being commonly brought up poor, 
loves what he gains for himself, and under- 
stands the arts whereby it may be kept ; 
whereas, his sons and grandsons being bred 
up in riches, and neither knowing what it is 
to get wealth, nor possessed of the arts and 
methods for preserving it, readily waste it 

288 The longing to have children cannot be 
blamed, since it is natural. Yet I say boldly 
that it is a kind of happiness not to have them. 
For even he whose children are good and 
sensible has undoubtedly more anxiety from 
them than comfort. This I have seen to be 
the case with my own father, who in his day 
was cited in Florence as an example of a sire 
blessed with good sons. Think then how it 
must fare with him who has worthless off- 



289 I do not wholly condemn the Turkish method 
of administering the law in civil matters ; 
though it be sudden rather than summary. 
For he who determines with his eyes shut 
may likely enough decide half his cases justly, 
while he saves the parties time and expense. 
Our own tribunals move so slowly, that often 
it were better for him who has right on his 
side to have the cause given against him 
on the first hearing than to win it after all 
the cost and trouble he is put to. Besides, 
from ignorance and dishonesty in our lawyers, 
as well as from obscurity in our laws, even 
with us black is too often made to appear 

290 He mistakes who supposes that the matters 
which the law leaves to the discretion of the 
judge are left to be dealt with at his mere will 
and pleasure ; it was never the intention of the 
law to empower the jucjge to dispense favour. 
But since it is impossible, owing to the diver- 
sity of circumstances, to lay down a precise rule 
for every particular case, the law is obliged to 
leave to the discretion of the judge, that is to 
say to his equity and ccmscience, to determine, 
after considering everything, as seems to him 



most just This wideness of the law releases 
the judge from having to render an account 
before the courts, because, as his action is not 
regulated by the law, he can always excuse 
himself Still it is never left within his power 
to give away the property of one suitor to 

291 We see from experience that masters make 
little account of their servants, and dismiss 
or ill-treat them as their humour or interest 
prompts. Those, therefore, are wise servants 
who make .their masters a return in kind, 
always, be it imderstood, maintaining their 
integrity and honour. 

292 Let young men be persuaded that experience 
teaches many lessons, and more to persons of 
large intelligence than to those of little. Whoso 
thinks this over will readily understand the 

293 Though you be of the keenest discernment, 
there are certain things you can never arrive 
at or rightly ^prehend without that experience 
which alone teaches thenL This hint will be 
best appreciated by him who has had much 



business to transact, for he will have learned 
for himself how good and useful an instructor 
experience is. 

294 The prince who savours somewhat of the 
prodigal is undoubtedly more popular than 
one who inclines to be miserly. And yet the 
contrary should be the case. For while the 
miser takes from no man, the prodigal is 
obliged to resort to extortion and rapacity ; 
so that there are many more who suffer from 
his exactions than there are who profit by 
his bounty. The e3q>lanation I believe to be, 
that hope has greater influence over men than 
fear; and that there are more who hope to 
gain something from the prodigal prince than 
there are who fear being oppressed by him. 

295 To be well looked on by your brethren and 
kinsfolk brings you numberless benefits, whereof, 
because they do not show themselves one by 
one, you take no heed, but which in many ways 
forward your interests and cause you to be 
held in esteem. Strive, therefore, to preserve 
this esteem and this good-will, even at the cost 
of some inconvenience. And herein men often 
err, being moved by the petty annoyances that 


are seen, while they disregard the great ad- 
vantages that are unseen. 

296 Whoso has authority and lordship over others 
can stretch and extend them even beyond the 
limit of his strength. For his subjects do not 
discern or accurately measxu-e what he can or 
cannot do. Nay, often from ims^ning his 
power to be greater than in truth it is, they 
submit to him in things to which he never 
could have compelled them. 

297 In my youth I believed that no amotmt of 
reflection would enable me to see more in a 
thing than I took in at a glance. But experience 
has shown me this opinion to be utterly false ; 
and you may laugh at any one who maintains 
the contrary. The longer we reflect, the clearer 
things grow and the better we understand them. 

298 When occasion offers for obtaining what 
you desire, seize it at once. For the things of 
this world are so fleeting that you never can 
say you have a thing till you grasp it in your 
h^d. For the same reason, when you are 
threatened with anything that displeases you, 
try to put ifofF as long as you can. For we see 



every hour that time brings opportunities which 
may free you from your troubles. And this is 
the meaning of the proverb, which the wise are 
said to have always on their lips, that we are to 
use the benefits of time. 

299 Some men easily hope what they desire. 
Others can never believe a thing theirs until 
they have secured it And doubtless it is 
better to hope little than much ; for excessive 
hopefulness slackens effort, and is the cause of 
far greater vexation should your designs fail 

300 Would you know the thoughts of tyrants, read 
Cornelius Tacitus where he makes mention of 
the last conversations that Augustus had with 

301 On due reflection, you will perceive that the 
same Cornelius Tacitus teaches admirably how 
one who lives under a tyrant should comport 

302 How wise his words who said, Ducunt 
volentes fata^ nolentes trahunt. Every day we 
have such experience of their truth that to> me 
it seems nothing was ever said better. 



303 A tynmt will spare no pains to discover your 
secret mind — I mean as to whether or no you 
arc contented with his government — ^by watching 
yoftr movements, by questioning those who con- 
verse with you, and by arguing with you himself 
on all sorts of subjects, putting cases and asking 
your opinion. Wherefore, if you would not have 
him read your thoughts, be well on your guard 
against the means be uses, avoiding conduct 
that might rouse his suspicions, being careful 
what you say even to intimates, and speaking 
and replying to him in such fashion that he can 
draw no conclusion. Wherein you will succeed 
if you keep it fixed in your mind that he is doing 
all he can to circumvent and see through you. 

304 If you be of great station in your country and 
live under a brutal and bloodthirsty tyrant, I 
know of no advice that can profit you save that 
you withdraw into exile. But when the tyrant, 
either from prudence or from necessity and the 
circumstances of his position, conducts himseK 
discreetly, you should seek, being a man of 
quality, to be thought of importance, and to be 
a person of courage, yet of a tranquil temper, 
and not desirous of change tmless forced upon 
you. For in this case the tyrant will caress you, 



and endeavour to give yott no cause for seeking 
to bring about changes. But he will not act 
thus if he know you to be of a restless humour ; 
for then, judging it impossible for you to keep 
quiet, he will always be contriving an occasion 
to crush you. 

305 In the case above mentioned, it is better not 
to be of the tyrant's most familiar intimates ; 
fcMT so he will not only caress you more, but in 
many respects will take fewer liberties with you 
than with his own friends. In this way you 
may enjoy his greatness, and yourself grow 
great on his fall. This, however, is not safe 
advice for any man to follow who is not of 
great standing in his country. 

306 There is a wide difference between having 
your subjects discontented and having them 
desperate. For desperate men think oi notfaiiig 
but changes, and seek them even to their peril 
Discontented men, though in trudi they desire 
change, do not mvite occasions for it, but await 

307 Good government is impossible without seve* 
rity, for the frowardness of men demands it 




But with severity you must use address, and do 
all you can to have it believed that cruelty is 
not pleasing to you, and that you only resort 
to it because you are obliged, and for the public 

308 We should look to substance, not to appear- 
ances and to the surface of things. Yet it is 
incredible how much favour smooth words and 
empty compliments will bring you among men. 
The reason I believe to be that every one seems 
to himself to deserve more than is really his 
due, and in consequence is vexed if he see you 
do not value him as he thinks he merits. 

309 It is honest and manly never to promise what 
you do not mean to perform. Nevertheless, 
since men are not ruled by reason, he to whom 
you deny a thing, though on good grounds, will 
commonly rest dissatisfied. It is otherwise with 
him who is liberal of his promises. For many 
things may happen making it unnecessary for 
him to ftdfil what he has promised, and in this 
way he gives satisfaction without putting himself 
about. Nay, even when it comes to performance 
he is seldom left without some excuse, and many 
men are so simple that they let themselves be 



cajoled with words. Still, to break faith involves 
so much discredit as outweighs any advantage 
you draw from it. Seek therefore to amuse 
with answers of general encouragement, and as 
£ar as possible avoid committing yourself by 
positive engagements. 

310 Avoid all such conduct as may injure and 
cannot benefit you. Accordingly, when there 
is nothing to be gained by it, and you are con- 
strained by no necessity, never, either before 
his face or behind his back, say things of a 
man that will offend him. For it were folly to 
make enemies without some end to serve. This 
maxim I would have you remember, for nearly 
every one is guilty of this sort of levity. 

31 1 We call him foolhardy who rushes upon dan- 
gers without heed to consequences. Him we 
call brave who, recognising dangers, frankly 
encounters them, whether on the spur of neces- 
sity or honour. 

312 Many imagine that the wise man, since he 
discerns all dangers, can never be brave. I, on 
the contrary, am of opinion that no timid man 
can be wise. For he who thinks more of a 



danger than ht ougkt^ must lack sense* But to 
clear up the point, which is somewhat obscure, 
I say that not all dangers are realised ; for some 
a man will escape by his irigilance, addiress, or 
valour, while chance wiU dispose of others in a 
thousand accidental ways. Aocordinglyr he ^frbo 
discerns dangers is not to assume them all as 
certain ; but prudendy distingui^ing which of 
them he may hope to overcome by himsd^ and 
against which of them he may hope to be aided 
by Fortune, should be ctf good heart, nor ever 
withdraw ftom an honourable and manly enter- 
prise through fear that he will encounter all the 
perils which he knows to lie on die rood. 

313 He errs who satys that learning hurts m^s 
brains. For though this may perhaps be true 
of him who has a weak brain, where die brain 
is sound, learning makes it poiect ; exceilence 
of letters joined to eascc^leiice of nature fermoiig 
a noble wholes 

314 Not for their own advantage were princes 
first (Mdained^ since no man wouhi have sub- 
mitted himself to a gratuitous serritode^ but in 
the interest oi the pectple dt large, to the end 

that they might be wdl governed. Accordingly, ^ , 

when ^^* 


^en a prince ceases to^consider his people, he 
is no longer a prince, but a tyrant 

315 Avarice in a prince" is incomparably more 
hateful than in a private man ; for as he has 
larger means of giving, he withholds proportion- 
ally more. Besides, while the property of the 
private man is absolutely his own, for his own 
use, and in his power to deal with as he (leases 
without just cause of offence to any, all that the 
prince has is given him to tise use and benefit 
of others ; so that in keeping it to himsetf he 
robs others of tibeir due. 

316 I maintain that the Duke of Ferrara, who 
busies himsdf in trade, not only lessens himself 
thereby, but is a tyrant, in that he does what 
it is the business of private men, and not his 
to do ; and in this way ofiends as much against 
the people as they would against him were 
they to interfere widi what is the office of the 
prince alone. 

317 By him who well considers the matter, aU states 
will be found to have had their origin in vtcdence ; 
nor, save as regards repul^ics, so far as their own 
territory extends and no fiirther, is there any 



dominion that is legitimate in its beginnings ; 
not even that of the Emperor. For this last is 
founded on the authority of the Romans, who 
were the greatest usurpers of alL Nor do I 
except from this rule the priests, who, to keep 
us under, resort to a twofold violence, using at 
once both spiritual weapons and temporal. 

318 The affairs of this world are so shifting and 
depend on so many accidents, that it is hard to 
form any judgment concerning the future ; nay, 
we see from experience that the forecasts even 
of the wise almost always turn out false. Where- 
fore I commend not the prudence of those who 
renounce a present though less good through 
fear of a future but greater evil, unless the evil 
be very near or very certain. For since what 
you fear is often not realised, you may find that 
you have sacrificed what gave you pleasure to a 
groundless alann. Still it is a wise saying dt 
cosa nasce cosa^ one thing leads to another. 

319 In arguments of state I have often found men 
judge wrongly from looking to what this or the 
other prince ought in reason to do, and not to 
what his temper and character will prompt him 
to do. He, for instance, who would form a just 



opinion as to how the King of France will act, 
ought rather to consider what are the habits and 
disposition of a Frenchman than what the course 
a prudent man might be expected to take. 

320 I have often said, and say again, that a man 
of great parts, who knows to make good use of 
his time, has no cause to complain of life being 
short For he can give his mind to an infinite 
variety of business, and save time by knowing 
how to spend it profitably. 

321 Whoso would be employed must never relax 
his hold on business. For one employment 
follows on another, not only because the first 
opens the way to the second, but also because 
the mere fact of his being employed gives a 
man a name as one fit to employ. Here again 
the proverb di cosa nasce cosa will be seen to 

322 It was no easy matter to excogitate these 
maxims, but it is harder still to observe them. 
For men do not always act on what they know. 
Accordingly, if you would be guided by them, 
you must subdue your nature and learn right 
habits. In this way you will be able not only 



to act as these maYims teach, but to obey in 
whatsoever eke reason enjoins, and that widi- 
out effort. 

323 He will not marvel at the abject temper 
of our citizens, who reads in Cornelius Tacitus 
how the Romans themselves, accustomed to 
rule the world and to live in so great gl(My, 
grew under their emperors so basdy slavish, 
that even the haughty and tyrannical Tiberius 
sickened at their servility. 

324 If displeased with any inan, do all you can 
to prevent his seeing it, for otherwise he will 
become estranged. And occasions often arise 
when he might and would have served you had 
you not lost him by shoeing your dislike. Of 
this I have had experience to my own profit. 
For once and again I have felt ill-disposed 
towards some one who not being aware of 
my hostility has afterwards helped me when I 
needed help and proved my good Mend. 

325 Things fated to perish not by violence but by 
a gradual wasting, often hold out much longer 
than at first seemed possible ; not merely be- 
cause their decay is slower than was counted 



on, but sdso because men, if stubborn to endure, 
will do and suffer things iKyond belief. Accord- 
ingly, we find that a war which has to be brought 
to an end by faunine, ^ulure of ammunition, want 
of money, or the like, always lasts much longer 
than was expected. In like manner the life of 
the hectic patient is constantly prolonged beyond 
the time anticipated by the i^ysicians and those 
about him. So too the merchant who is eaten 
up by usury will keep his feet for an inconceiv- 
able time before he breaks. 

326 In your intercourse with die great, never suffer 
yourself to be cajoled by those caresses and 
surface civilities wherewith they are wont to 
lure men whither they please, that they may 
strangle them. And the harder it is to resist, 
the more must you be on your guard, and keep- 
ing cool and collected, avoid being carried off 
your feet by their attentions. 

327 You can have no higher excellence dum 
gready to esteem honour. He who does so will 
fear no danger, nor be guilty of any unworthy 
deed. Hold to this, and it can scarce happen 
but that all else shall go well with you. Ex- 
perius loquor. 



328 You may laugh at those who are always 
talking of liberty. I will not say at all of them, 
yet I except but few. For if these men thought 
their fortunes would be mended under a tyranny, 
they would rush to it post-haste. With almost 
all men regard for their own interest prevails, 
and few indeed are they who know the worth 
of glory and honour. 

329 I have always found it hard to persuade my- 
self that God would suffer the sons of Duke 
Lodovico Sforza to enjoy the state of Milan ; 
not so much because their father wickedly 
usurped it, as because in effecting this, he 
brought about the servitude and ruin of all 
Italy, and so many consequent calamities 
throughout Christendom. 

330 I maintain that a good and patriotic citizen 
should seek to stand well with a tyrant, not 
merely to secure his own safety, he being in 
danger if he be held in suspicion, but also for 
the welfare of his country. For in this way he 
gains opportunity of forwarding by his actions 
and counsels many useful measures, and hinder- 
ing many that are the reverse. And they are 
fools who blame him. For both they and their 



city would be in a miserable plight, if the tyrant 
had none but worthless men about him. 

331 While we could not hope to subjugate Siena, 
it was for otu- interest that it should have wise 
rulers. For a prudent government would always 
seek to be on good terms with us, and allowing 
itself to be guided by reason rather than trans- 
ported by the innate hatred which the Sienese 
bear us, would never wish war to be brought 
upon Tuscany. But now that the Papacy is with 
us, it were more to our advantage that Siena 
had turbulent rulers ; since then it might more 
readily drop into our mouths. 

332 Who does not see that if the present Pope 
take Ferrara, it will be the aim of the next 
to make himself master of Tuscany. For the 
kingdom of Naples being in the hands of 
powerful princes, its conquest presents too 
many difficulties. 

333 Under a popular government it is for the 
interest of families like ours, that what are 
called the Great Houses should be preserved; 
for as these are hateful to the people, we are in 
consequence favourably regarded by all. But 



were they to be destroyed, die hatred which 
the people bear to tiion would be turned 
against us. 

334 My fa&er gave Piero Soderini wise cosmsel 
when he recommended that of our own accord 
we should recall the Medici as private citizens. 
For in this way we should have got rid of our 
exiles, who are the worst evil a state can suffer 
Axxn ; and at the same time have deprived the 
£unily of the Medici of their infhience bodi 
witlnn the city and without Within the city, 
because on returning there, and finding them- 
selves on a mere equality widi others, they 
would not have desired to remain. Without, 
because those princes who believed them to 
have a g^reat following at home, on seeing them 
come back and no longer powerfid, would have 
ceased to hdki them in account But to carry 
out this advice successfully needed perhaps a 
more spirited and courageous magistrate dian 
was Piero SoderinL 

335 It is die nature of a peo{^ as it is of indi- 
vidual men, to be always striving to better dieir 
condition. It is prudence, therefore, to refuse 
their first demands. For by yielding these 



you do not bring them to a stay, but on the 
omtzary encorarage them to ask more, and with 
more urgenq^ than at first The more yon 
give them to drink, the fiercer grows their 

336 Past events throw light on future, because 
the world has always been the same as it now 
is, and all that is now, or shall be hereafter, 
has been in time past. Things accordingly 
r^eat themsdves^ but under changed names 
and colours, so that it is not every one who 
caa Ttcogtast them, but only he who is dis- 
cerning and who notes- and considers them 

337 Doubtless the man of ordinary parts has 
more enjoyment in this worid, and lives a 
longer, and in some sort a happier life, than he 
who is of a loftier intellect For a noble mind 
is likely tmough to fret said torment its owner. 
But the first part^^fes more of the brute than of 
the man^ The other transcends human nature 
and approaches the divine. 

338 If you look to if closely, you shall find that 
not only 4o woids^ manners, and fashions in 



dress alter from age to age, but, what is more 
remarkable, that men's tastes and inclinations 
alter. A like diversity may be seen in different 
countries in the same age. I do not lay so 
much stress on the difference in manners, for 
this may result from difference in training, as 
on the variation in men's tastes and appetites, 
even in respect of food. 

339 Enterprises which, undertaken at a wrong 
moment, are difficult or impossible, become 
easy enough when aided by time and oppor- 
tunity. Those who enter on them unseason- 
ably will not only fail in their efforts then, 
but will endanger subsequent success at a time 
when it might be looked for. To be accounted 
wise you must be patient. 

340 In my governments, when disputes came 
before me which for any reason I desired 
should be accommodated, it was my custom 
to say nothing about an accord, but by inter- 
posing adjournments and delays to bring the 
parties to propose it themselves. In this 
way, what would have been rejected had I 
suggested it at the first, has had the ground 
so prepared for it, that when the right moment 



came, I have been entreated by both sides to 
arbitrate between them. 

341 It is no marvel that a governor who frequently 
resorts to cruelty and harshness should make 
himself feared. For his subjects are likely 
enough to fear one who has it in his power to 
use violence against them, or to ruin them, 
and who is not slow to smite. Those governors 
I commend who, while they inflict few severities 
or punishments, yet know how to acquire and 
preserve a name for strictness. 

342 I do not say that a ruler is never to imbue 
his hands in blood, but that he is not to do 
so without grave cause, and that in most 
instances he loses more than he gains by it. 
For not only does he offend those on whom 
he lays hands, but displeases many besides ; 
and although he thus gets rid of some one 
enemy or obstacle, he does not thereby destroy 
the seed ; so that others take their place, and 
often, as with the heads of Hydra, seven for 

343 Remember what I said before that these 
maxims are not to be observed indiscriminately, 



since in particular oues, to ^ich a diflerent 
reason applies, they will not hold good. What 
these cases are cannot be defined by any fixed 
ruie^ nor is any book to be found that will 
teach ^em. This light must be imparted fe^t 
by nattue and then by experience. 

344 I am convinced that in no office or position 
of authority is greater prudence Of capacity 
needed than in the command oi an army. For 
incite are the things for which a commands 
has to provide smd issue orders beforehand, 
and infinite the accidents and difficulties which 
present themselves ftosn hoar to hour ; so that 
of a truth he needs have more eyes than Argus. 
Not only for its importance, therefore, but also for 
the prudence tt demands, I hold that as onnpared 
with this every other charge is insignificant. 

345 To speak of the people is to speak of a mad* 
man; of a mcmster stctfifed with inconsistescits 
and ecrars ^ whose empty judgments lie as far 
from truthy as Spain, according to Ptolemy, 
from India. 

346 My nature has always disposed me to desire 
the overthrow of the government of the Churclw 



But fortune has so willed it that my relations 
with two Popes have been of a kind to force me 
to labour and strive for their advancement 
Were it not for this, I should have loved Martin 
Luther more than myself, in the hope that his 
following might destroy, or at any rate clip the 
wings o^ this vile tjrranny of the priests. 

347 It is one thing to be brave, another to face 
danger out of regard to honour. In both cases 
the danger is recognised, but the brave man 
believes he can defend himself from it, and but 
for this confidence would not await it The 
other may dread danger more than he ought, 
yet stands his ground : not that he is not afraid, 
but that he is resolved to suffer hurt sooner 
than shame. 

348 It ofien happens in our city that they who 
have been most forward in aiding another to 
get possession of the government presently 
become his enemies. The cause is said to be, 
that as men of this sort are commonly persons 
of rank and parts, and possibly of a turbulent 
temper, he who has the government in his hands 
comes to look on them with distrust It may 
also be that, from seeming to themselves to have 




deserved much, such persons often aspire to 
more than it is fit they should have, and are 
'offended if they do not get it ; whence there 
comes afterwards hostility on the one side and 
suspicion on the other. 

349 When he who has promoted or has been the 
prime cause of my advancement would have me 
govern as he pleases, in seeking thus to use the 
authority he has gained for me, he cancels his 
former benefits and gives me just cause for 
breaking with him ; nor am I, because I do so, 
to be called ungrateful. 

350 Let none claim praise for not doing or for 
doing those things which, if he did or omitted 
to do, he would deserve blame. 

35 1 The Castilian proverb says, " The rope breaks 
where it is weakest" In any rivalry or conten- 
tion with one who is more powerfiil or more 
feared than you, you are sure to come off worst, 
even though right, honour, and gratitude should 
all demand the contrary. For men are wont to 
look more to their interest than to their duty. 

352 I have not the art of showing myself to 



advantage, or of obtaining credit for what in 
truth I lack. It would be better for me if I 
had. For it is incredible how much it helps 
you that men should think and believe you to 
be a person of importance, and how, on the 
merest rumour of your being so, they run after 
you without requiring ftirther proof. 

353 I always maintain it to be more surprising 
that the Florentines should have acquired the 
scanty territory they possess than that the 
Venetians or any other of the Italian powers 
should have gained their more extended domi- 
nions. For everywhere throughout Tuscany, 
even in its smallest towns, liberty had taken 
so strong a hold, that all were enemies to the 
aggrandisement of Florence. It is otherwise 
where you are surrounded by peoples used to 
servitude ; for to these it matters so little 
whether they be ruled by one lord or by 
another, that they are never roused to any 
permanent or stubborn resistance. Besides 
which, we have, and always have had, a formid- 
able obstacle to our growth in the nearness of 
the Church, who, from the depth to which she 
has struck her roots, has greatly hindered the 
spread of our dominion. 



354 All political writers are agreed that the 
government of a sole prince, when he is good, 
is preferable to the government of an oligarchy 
or of a democracy, assuming these likewise 
to be good. And the reasons are obvious. 
Similarly they are agreed that the government 
of a sole prince sooner than the others hUs 
away from being good, and when bad is the 
worst of all, especially where it passes by inhe- 
ritance, since a good and wise fother is rarely 
succeeded by a son like himself. I wish, how- 
ever, that these writers, after considering all 
the conditions and risks, had told us which 

, fcmn of government a new city should most 
desire ; I mean, whether to be subject to the 
rule of one, of many, or of a few. 

355 A master knows less than any one else about 
his servants, and a prince's knowledge of his 
subjects is in like ratio. For these do not open 
themselves before him, as they do before others, 
but, on the contrary, seek to cloak themselves, 
and to appear to him of a character different 
from their true one. 

356 If you live at court and are the follower of 
some great lord, and would be employed by 



him in his affairs, endeavour to keep yourself 
always in his sight. For every hour things 
will occur to be done which he will commit to 
him whom he sees, or who is at hand, and not 
to you if he has to seek or send for you. And 
whosoever misses an opening, however small, 
will often lose the introduction or approach to 
matters of greater moment. 

357 Those Friars who preach of predestination 
and the like thorny articles of our faith seem 
to me to lack wisdom ; since it were better not 
to give men occasion to think of things they 
can hardly tmderstand than to awaken doubts 
in their minds which afterwards we can only 
silence by saying, " So our faith declareth ; thus 
must we believe." 

35S In Florence, though you be a good citizen and 
no enemy to liberty, yet shotdd you in any way 
connect yourself with a government like that 
of the Medici, you come to be ill-ihought of 
and ill-liked by the people. Such disfavour 
you should as far as possible avoid on account 
of the many inconveniences it brings with it 
Still I maintain that you ought not for this 
reason to withdraw altogether from such a 



connection, or forego the benefits to be derived 
from it For unless you have incurred a name 
for rapacity, or given oflfence to some powerful 
man or class of men, when the government is 
afterwards changed and the people relieved 
from the causes that made you obnoxious, your 
other offences will be purged, and your un- 
popularity in time wear off; nor will you be 
visited with that disgrace or ruin which at the 
first you may have feared. For all that, these 
are things that weigh with men, and sometimes 
lead them to make mistakes ; and at any rate 
it cannot be denied that the person who has 
compromised himself by the like relations loses 
the clear reputation which another who stands 
clear of them will preserve. 

359 Again I say that masters make little account 
of their servants, and to secure any trifling end 
of their own are ready to drag them through the 
dirt Wherefore those servants are wise who do 
the like by their masters, so long as they do 
nothing contrary to integrity or honour. 

360 He who knows himself to be the favourite of 
fortune may join in any enterprise with greater 
audacity. But it should be remembered that 



not only may fortune vary at different times, 
but also at the same time may vary as to 
different things. For he who considers it will 
see that sometimes the same person is fortunate 
in affairs of one sort and yet unfortunate in 
those of another. For myself, up to this 3rd 
day of February 1523, I have in many things 
enjoyed extreme good fortune ; yet have not 
had the same success in commerce, nor in 
regard to those honours I had set my heart on ; 
for things I have sought after have seemed to 
withdraw to a greater distance, while those I 
did not care to possess have thrust themselves 
upon me. 

361 Man has no worse enemy than himself, for 
almost all the many troubles, dangers, and 
afflictions he has to endure have no other 
source than his own excessive desires. 

362 The things of this world are never at a stay, 
but tend continually towards that path whereby, 
in virtue of their nature, they must come to 
their end. Yet is their progress slower than 
we reckon for. For we measure them with 
reference to our lives, which are brie^ not to 
their term, which is long. Their march, then, 


is slower than ours, nay, from their nature so 
slow, that though they move, we often cannot 
detect their motion. For which reason the 
judgments we form concerning them are often 

363 Were wealth sought after for no other end 
than that it might be enjoyed, the desire for it 
would be the stamp of a base and ignoble mind. 
But this life of ours being so corrupt as it is, he 
who seeks reputation is forced to desire wealth ; 
for through it those virtues shine and are held 
in price which in a poor man are litde known 
and lightly esteemed. 

364 I know not whether he is to be called fortimate 
to whom a great opportunity presents itself once 
only ; since unless he be extremely prudent he 
will not know to turn it to account But he 
assuredly must be thought most fortunate to 
whom the same great opportunity offers itself 
twice ; for he were indeed a fool if he knew not 
how to use it the second time. On a second 
occasion, therefore, everything is to be ascribed 
to fortune ; on a first, prudence also has a part. 

365 In a commonwealth liberty is but the hand- 



maiden of justice, being established for no other 
end than that one man may not be oppressed 
by another. And could we be sure that justice 
would be administered under the government 
of one or of a few, we shotdd have no great 
cause to regret the absence of liberty. And 
this is the reason why the wise men and philo- 
sophers of antiquity did not conmiend free 
governments beyond others, but preferred those 
that provided best for the maintenance of the 
laws and of justice. 

366 When tidings brought me on doubtful autho- 
rity have in themselves an air of truth, or are 
such as might reasonably be looked for, I yield 
them scant credit. For men easily invent what 
is credible or is expected. I listen more readily 
when the news is out of the common and such 
as none foresaw ; since it is unlikely that any 
one should invent or ask belief for what no one 
thinks of. And of this I have often had expe- 

367 How lucky are the astrologers 1 For although 
their art, whether from its own imperfections 
or from the shortcomings of those who practise 
it, be a vain thing, they obtain more credit from 



one prediction that comes true than they lose 
by a hundred that turn out false ; whereas with 
other men, to be found out in a single lie de- 
stroys confidence in them even when they speak 
the truth. This comes from the great eager- 
ness men have to know the future ; for lacking 
other means for obtaining such knowledge, they 
yield a ready belief to any one who pretends 
he can impart it, as the sick man trusts the 
physician who promises him health. 

368 Pray God you be not found on the losing 
side ; for however blameless you may be, you 
will always incur discredit Nor can you go 
about through all the streets and market- 
places trying to clear yourself. On the other 
hand, he who has taken the winning side 
will always obtain praise, however little he 
deserves it 

369 In private affairs it is, as every one knows, 
an advantage to have possession, though the 
legal right is not thereby altered, and the 
procedure of the courts and the means for 
obtaining redress are fixed and settled. But 
in matters depending upon public poUcy or 
on the will of those who rule, the advantage 


is incomparably less. For not having to con- 
tend against immutable principles of justice, 
nor against tribunals that determine in accor- 
dance therewith, a thousand occasions every 
day present themselves, of which an adversary 
seeking to oust you may easily make use. 

370 He who would be loved by his superiors must 
show them that he regards them with respect 
and reverence. And if he err on this point, 
let it be on the side of excess rather than of 
defect For nothing gives more offence to a 
superior than the notion that he has not re- 
ceived the attention or consideration which he 
thinks his due. 

371 It was a cruel ordinance of the S3rracusans, 
whereof Livy makes mention, that even the 
daughters of tyrants should be put to death. 
And yet there was reason in it too. For on the 
extinction of a tyrant those who were satisfied to 
live under him will set up if they can another 
in his room, though they had to make him of 
wax. And since it is not easy to give reputa- 
tion to a new ruler, they will avail themselves 
of any relic that survives of the former one. 
Wherefore a city that has newly escaped from 


a tyranny is never altogether secure of its 
freedom unless it exterminates the whole race 
and seed of the tyrant. I say this absolutely 
and without reserve of the male offspring ; as 
regards the female, I distinguish, in respect of 
circimistances, and in respect of the character 
of the women themselves, and of their cities. 

372 I have said already that governments cannot 
be made secure by cutting off heads, since the 
effect of this, as is told of Hydra, is rather to 
multiply enemies. Yet there are many instances 
of governments being cemented with blood as 
houses with lime. No rule can be given for 
distinguishing these contrary cases. This must 
be left to the sagacity and discernment of him 
who has to act. 

373 We cannot all have the station or employ- 
ment we covet, but commonly must content 
ourselves with what fate has thrown in our 
way, or what conforms to the condition in 
which we are bom. True merit, accordingly, 
lies in doing what we have to do well, and as 
befits our means ; as in a play, he is no less 
applauded who acts well the part of a servant 
than he who wears the robes of a king. In 



short, each in his own station may do himself 
honour and deserve praise. 

374 Every man in this world, be he whom you 
will, commits mistakes, whence greater or less 
harm will follow as the accidents and circum- 
stances attending them may determine. Those 
men, however, are fortunate who happen to 
mistake in matters of less moment, and whence 
less mischief flows. 

375 It is great happiness for a man to be able so 
to live that he need neither suffer injury from, 
nor inflict it upon others. But if he be so placed 
that he must either suffer or inflict injury, let 
him choose the course that is most to his advan- 
tage. For what we do to escape injury has the 
same justification as what we do after injury 
received. Nevertheless you must be prudent in 
discriminating circumstances, nor on a ground- 
less alarm persuade yourself that you are forced 
to fbrestalL And when, in truth, you fear no 
danger, you are not to allege false fears in order 
to justify violence committed through greed or 

376 The family of the Medici, for all their great- 



ness, have now more difficulty to retain their 
hold on the government of Florence than their 
ancestors, though only private citizens, had to 
gain it And this because the city had not then 
tasted the sweets of liberty and popular insti- 
tutions, but, on the contrary, had always been 
in the power of a few ; so that he who ruled the 
state never had the whole people for his enemies, 
since it mattered little to them whether they 
saw the government in one man's hand or in 
another's. But the memory of the popular 
government, which lasted from 1494 to 15 12, is 
so rooted in the hearts of the Florentines, that 
save those few who hope imder a despotism to 
have advantages over others, all are hostile to 
him who is master of the state, thinking his 
authority to be unjustly taken from them. 

377 Let no man scheme to make himself supreme 
in Florence who is not of the line of the Medici 
and backed besides by the power of the Church. 
None else, be he who he may, has such influence 
or following that he can hope to reach this 
height, unless indeed he be carried to it by the 
free voice of the people in search of a constitu* 
tional chief ; as happened to Piero Soderini. If 
any therefore aspire to such honours, not being 



of the house of the Medici, let him affect the 
popular cause. 

37^ The wishes and resolves of the people are so 
unstable, and formed so much oftener at random 
than upon reflection, that he who directs his 
course of life by no other aim than to become 
great with their help shows little sense. For his 
success depends on chance rather than wisdom. 

379 In Florence he who has not the qualifications 
for becoming head of affairs were a fool to in- 
volve himself so far with any government as to 
peril his whole fortune or its success ; since 
what he may gain is as nothing to what he may 
lose. Nor let any man incur the risk of exile. 
For since our city is not divided into factions 
like the Adomi and Fregosi of Genoa, none 
will come forward to take his part, and he will 
be forced to lie abroad without money or 
credit ; nay, may be reduced to beg for a liveli- 
hood. Of which fate, to those who remember 
him, Bernardo Rucellai will be a sufficient ex- 
ample. This consideration alone should teach 
us to temporise, and so to conduct ourselves 
towards the head of the state that he shall have 
no ground to suspect us or to treat us as enemies. 



380 I would be ready enoogh to labour for changes 
in a government that I disliked could I hope to 
effect them by myself alone. But when I re- 
member that I must combine with others, and 
for the most part with fools or knaves, who neither 
know bow to be silent nor how to act, nothing 
di^^usts me more than to think of changes. 

381 No two men could have been more unlike in 
character than the Popes Julius and Clement 
For while the former was of great and even 
excessive courage, ardent, impulsive, frank, and 
open, the latter was of a temper inclining rather 
to timidity, most patient, moderate, and withal 
deceitfiiL And yet from natures so opposite 
the same results, in the shape of great achieve- 
ments, could be looked for. Because in the 
hands of great masters patience and impetuosity 
are alike fitted to effisct important ends ; the 
one operating by a sudden onslaught, breaking 
down all oi^sition ; the other seeking to wear 
out by delay and to conquer with the aid of time 
and opportunity. So that where the one hinders, 
the other helps, and conversely. But were it 
possible for a man to combine the two natures, 
he would indeed be divine. As this, however, 
can hardly happen, I believe that, all things con- 


sidered, greater results are to be obtained by 
moderation and patience than by impetuosity 
and daring. 

382 Although we act on the best advice, yet, so 
uncertain is the future, the results are often con- 
trary. Still we are not on that account to give 
ourselves up like beasts a prey to Fortune, but 
like men to walk by Reason. And he who is 
truly wise should be better pleased to have been 
guided by good advice though the result be 
untoward, than to have prospered in following 
evil counsel. 

383 Whoso in Florence would be well liked by 
the people, must avoid a name for ambition, 
nor betray, even in the most trivial matters 
of everyday life, any desire to appear greater, 
grander, or more refined than his fellows. For 
in a city which has its foundation in equality, 
and brims over with jealousy, every man must 
needs be odious who is suspected of wishing to 
stand on a different level from the rest, or to 
deviate from the common mode of living. 

384 In the matter of economy, the main pmnt, no 
doubt, is to retrench all superfluous outlay. Still 




it seems to me that much shrewdness may 
be shown in getting greater advantages than 
others at the same cost, and, as is vulgarly said, 
making your groat go as far as another man's 

385 Remember that although the man who is 
earning money may well spend something more 
than he who earns none, still it were folly to 
spend largely on the strength of your earnings 
if you have not first laid by a fair amount of 
capital. Opportunity for earning does not last 
for ever ; and if while it does last you do not 
make the most of it, you will find yourself when 
it is over as poor as you were at first, besides 
having lost time and credit as well. For he 
cannot but be thought to lack sense who, having 
had a fair chance, has not known how to turn 
it to account. Bear the warning in mind, for 
within my own experience I have seen this mis- 
take constantly made. 

386 My father used to say, " A ducat in your 
purse brings you more credit than ten spent ; " 
a maxim to be remembered not as an excuse 
for being penurious or for falling short in any 
honourable or reasonable outlay, but as a check 
on needless extravagance. 



387 It very seldom happens that a written instru- 
ment is an out-and-out fabrication from the first. 
It is only later, when dishonest thoughts sugges 
themselves to men^s minds, or when in their 
management of affairs they find some useful 
clause to be wanting, that they seek to make 
a document say what they would wish it to 
have said. Wherefore when you have had 
instruments executed relating to matters of im- 
portance, let it be your practice to carry them 
off at once, and preserve them in your house in 
an authentic shape. 

388 In Florence it is a very great charge for a 
man to have daughters, by reason of the extreme 
difficulty he has in getting them well married. 
To avoid mistakes as to the alliances he should 
seek for them, he must form a just estimate 
both of his own position and of the surrounding 
circumstances. This will diminish his difii- 
culties, which on the other hand will be aug- 
mented if he thinks too well of himself or fails 
to see things as they are. I have often known 
prudent fathers begin by rejecting alliances 
which afterwards, when it was too late, they 
would have been glad to accept. This, how- 
ever, is no reason for a man to hold himself so 



cheap that, like Francesco Vettori, he ^ould 
give his daughters away to the first who asks 
for them. In short, it is a matter which demands 
great prudence ; and I may say for myself that 
I am more certain what ought to be done, than 
that when the occasicm comes I ^lall know how 
to do it 

389 'Us certam that services rendered to a people 
or corporate society are less considered than 
those rendered to individual men ; for as they 
concern all collectively, none thinks himself 
specially obliged. He, therefore, who labours 
for a community or people, must not expect 
them to put tlreo^ves about for him in any 
danger or distress into which he may fall ; or 
that for his sake, or out of gratitude for his 
services, daey will forego didr own advantage. 
For all that, you are not to think so disdainfoUy 
of conforrii^ benefits upon a people as to n^iiect 
opportunities for doing 90. For in this way you 
come to be well thought o£, and to enjoy a good 
name, and this in Itsdf is an ample return for 
your pains. Moreover, occasions may oome in 
which the memory of your b^iefits will stand 
you in stead, and kindle those on whom they 
have been bestowed, at least if they -have not 



became corrupted, to some feeling: of gfratitude, 
though less ardent than would be felt by an 
individual ; and there are so many whom this 
slight impression may touch, that sometimes, 
putting it altogether, the gratitude of a people 
is astonishing. 

390 The return we reap from generous actions 
is not always manifest Wherefore he who is 
not content to do good merely for its own sake 
will often leave off doing it, thinking he wastes 
his time. But in so thinking he makes no 
small mistake. For to do what is praiseworthy, 
if it bring you no other patent advantage, at 
least spreads your reputation and good name, 
and this is often and in many ways of incredible 
service to you. 

391 The governor of a town threatened with 
attack or siege should trust most to those 
methods of defence which interpose delay ; and 
even when he has no sure hope of success, 
should welcome every expedient that will cause 
the enemy to lose were it ever so little time. 
For often a da/s or even an hour's respite may 
bring about deliverance. 

392 If on the happening of any p^ictilar event 



you were to get some wise man to say what 
results he thought likely to follow, and were to 
write down his forecast, you would find when 
after a time you turned to look at it, that as 
little of his prediction had come true as might 
be the case at the year's end in regard to the 
prophecies of the astrologers. And this from 
the extreme uncertainty of human affairs. 

393 In matters of moment no one can form a 
sound opinion who is not well informed of all 
particulars. For often some perfectly trifling 
circumstance will alter the whole case. And 
yet I have frequently seen the same man draw 
right conclusions in matters whereof he knew 
only the general bearings, and judge less cor- 
rectly when all particulars were supplied him. 
For unless you have a very clear head, and one 
wholly free from passion, you are likely enough 
to waver or grow confused when many parti- 
culars are laid before yoiL 

394 In reasoning about the future it is dangerous 
to proceed by drawing distinctions; as that 



either this will happen or that ; if this happen I 
shall do one thing, if that another. For often a 
third or fourth contingency presents itself which 
you had not taken into account ; and the ground 
of your resolve failing, you are left in the lurch. 

395 When disasters threaten, more especially in 
war, never hesitate or refuse to resort to reme- 
dies from a belief that they are too late. Because 
as the march of events, both from their own 
nature and from the various obstacles they meet 
with, is commonly slower than we reckon for, it 
will often happen that the remedy you fail to 
employ from judging it too late would still be in 
time. Of this I have repeatedly had experience. 

396 Never, from a desire to confer pleasure or to 
conciliate friends, refrain from doing what will 
gain you reputation. For on him who maintains 
or extends his reputation, friends and favour 
follow of themselves ; while he who omits to do 
what he ought, is in consequence little esteemed. 
Whoso lacks reputation shall also lack friends 
and favour. 

597 The more you strive to escape an extreme 
by withdrawing towards its contrary, the more 



likely are yoa to fall into the extreme you would 
avoid, from not knowing how to halt at the just 
mean. Thus it is that popular governments^ 
when to escape tyranny they betake themselves 
to licence, only get the deeper involved. Our 
friends in Florence have not yet learned this 
elementary lesson. 

398 It is of ancient wont in Florence that when 
any law or other matter displeases us, we seek 
a remedy in enacting the express contrary ; 
wherein finding afterwards other defects — since 
all extremes are faulty — we are constrained to 
frame further laws and ordinances. One reason, 
therefore, why we are always passing new laws 
is, that we seek rather how we may fiee present 
ills than how we may correct them. 

399 How £sdsely they speak who are continually 
declaring that had this been so, or that been 
otherwise, this or the other result had followed. 
For could the truth be known, it would be seen 
that, for the most part, the very same results 
would have followed, even had the circumstances 
been present which it is believed would have 
altered them. 

400 When bad or ignorant men govern, it is no 



wonder that goodness and worth are little prized. 
For bad men hold them in abhorrence, and 
ignorant men do not recognise them. 

401 Provided he be no contemner of religion or 
sound morals, the man who is zealous for the 
welfare of his country, and opposed to whatever 
tends to the injury of others, is a sufHciently 
good citizen. The superabundant goodness of 
oiu: friends at St. Mark's is often hypocrisy ; but 
assuming it to be sincere, though it be not 
excessive in a Christian, it contributes nothing 
to the well-being of the state. 

402 It was a mistake on the part of the Medici 
that in many respects they sought to conduct 
their government in accordance with popular 
principles ; for instance, in enlarging the number 
of those eligible for office, in allowing every 
man a share in public business, and the like. 
For whereas a close government could be 
maintained in Florence only by the zealous 
support of a few, the methods I speak of neither 
gained for this family the favour of the people 
at large, nor made the few their partisans. The 
popular government will be guilty of a like error 
should it seek to conform in many particulars 



with the usages of a close government, and 
more especially if it should exclude any section 
of the citizens ; for free institutions cannot be 
maintained unless they give content to alL 
Accordingly a free government cannot imitate 
a close government in everything ; and it were 
madness to imitate it in what makes it hateful, 
and not in what makes it strong. 

403 O ingenia magis acria quant ntatura^ said 
Petrarch of the Florentine intellect ; and with 
truth. For it is our characteristic quality to be 
quick and subtle rather than grave and mature. 




1. The siege of Floreoce by the united forces of Pope 

Clement VII. and the Emperor Charles V., 
which Guicciardini here refers to as having at 
the time he wrote lasted for seven months, began 
in October 1529, and did not terminate till the 
end of August 1530. This Reflection tberefcnre 
was probably written in May or June 1530. The 
reference to the continued resistance of the Floren- 
tines in No. 136, and to the embassies of Carducci 
and others in No. 171, show that the whole series 
of Reflections, as f^ as the last-named number, 
must have been written or transcribed by Guic- 
ciardini in 1530 during the siege. From April to 
August 1530 the author was in Rome ; see letter 
dated April 85, 1530, to bis brother Jacopo, Op. 
Ined. jc 149, and subsequent letters to bis brother 
Lttigii Op. Ined. ix. 148-156. 

2. Cf. No. 346. 

4. Cf. Nofc 291, 3S9. 

5. Cf. NoSb 261-262. As to hope being a stronger 

stimulus than^^r, €f. No. 62. 
6w Cf. Nos. 117, 257, 343. 
7-8. Cf. No. 310. 
9. Ct No. 32* 

10. Cf. Nos. 29a'293. 

11. Cf. Nos. 265, 390. 

13. Cf. No. 300. I do not find any such conversation 
recorded by Tacitus. 

174 NOTES. 


14. CC No. 366. 

15 16. CC Nos. 381-383 ; and see the Meditation (dated 
September 1537, at Fiooccbieto. ** tempore pesHs") 
printed in tbe Ricordi Autobiografici, Op. Ined. 
X. 135-136, where the same rdSections occur in 
nearly identical terms. See also 1st, tTItalta, 
Book viii. (voL ii p. 337) : •• Nelle cose che dopo 
lungo desiderio si ottengono. non trovano quasi 
mai gli tiomini nk la gioconditii ni la felidti che 
prima si averano immaginata." 

17. Cf. No. 379. This Reflection also will be found in 

the Meditation referred to in the preceding note. 
Op. Ined. z. isi. 

18. Cf No. 301. 

19. Cf. No. 380. 

30. Cf. No. 377 ; and see Machiavelli, Disconiy iii. 6. 

31. Cf No. 403, and see Nos. 38, 376. As to the 

necessity for a partisan government being adopted 
by the Medici, see Discorso quarto intomo alle 
mutanoni e riforme, Op. Ined. ii 316-334. 

33. Cf. Nos. 31$, 384, 399 ; and see 1st. tF Italia, Book ix. 
(voL ii. p. 330) : " Sarebbe per avventura minore 
spesso I'autorit^ di quegli che riprendono le cose 
infelioeniente succedute. se nel tempo medesimo 
si potesse sapere quel che sarebbe accaduto, se 
si fosse proceduto diversamente," &c. 

33. Cf. Nos. 114, 318, 39s ; the Reflection occurs in the 
Dialogue Del Regginunto di Firenu, Op. Ined. 
ii. 308 ; and again in the 1st. cC Italia, Book iv. 
(vol. i. p. 343), in the speech assigned to Antonio 

34-35. Cf. Nos. 37, 355, 363, 364 ; and see speech 
ascribed to the Duke of Alva, 1st. d^ Italia, 
Book xvi, (vol. iv. p. 28). 

36. Cf. No. 308. 

37. Cf. No. 34 and note. 

NOTES. 175 


28. Cf. No. 346. In the Cansiderazioni sui Discorsi 

del Machiavelli, Op. Ined. i. 27, Guicciardini 
speaks in similarly severe terms of the Roman 

29. Cf. No. 353. Machiavelli had expressed a like 

opinion, Discorsi iii. 12: "Chi considerr^ 
bene i vicini della citti di Firenze ed i vicini 
della cxitk di Vinegia, non si meraviglieril," &c. 
See also Del Reggimento di Firenze, Op. Ined. 
ii. 207-208. 
30-31. Cf. No. 274; and see Machiavelli, Principe, 
cap. 25 ; Discorsi ii. 29, and iii. 9. See also 
Del Reggimento di Firenze^ Op. Ined. ii. 
188. " Nothing is more politic than to make the 
wheels of our mind concentric and voluble with 
the wheels of fortune,"— Bacon, Advancement of 

32. Cf. No. 223; and see Del Reggimento, &>(., Op. 

Ined. ii. 147 : " Hanno le citt^ libere a non avere 
per male che i cittadini sua siano desiderosi della 
gloria," &c. 

33. Cf. No. 287. 

34. Cf. Nos. 71, 325, 362 ; and see Discorsi Politici, Op. 

Ined. i. 298 : " La esperienza mostra tutto di, 
che tutte le cose che hanno. a finire," &c. 

36. Cf. No. 309. 

37. Cf. Nos. 199, 269 ; and see 1st. d Italia, Book i. (vol. 

i. p. 57) : •' Non pu6 quasi essere che quello che 
molto efficacemente si afferma non faccia qualche 
ambiguity eziandio negli animi determinati a 
credere il contrario." 

38. Cf. No. 376, and see No. 21 and note. As to 

the difficulties of the later Medici as compared 
with those of Cosimo, see Del Reggimento di 
Firenze, Op. Ined. ii. 189 ; and Considerazimii 
sui Discorsi del Machiavelli, Op. Ined. i. 35. 

176 NOTES. 

39u Ct No. 268. Piero Guicctardini, the author's fether, 
had five sons and six daughters, Op. Ined. z. 71. 
In the Ricardi AmtoHogm/Ui, Op. Ined. z. 90, 
Gaicdardini conjectures that his Other's death 
. was hastened bj the Texation caused him by 
the debts and embarrassments of his eldest son, 

4a Ct No. 396. 

41. Cf. Na 907 ; and see CoHsideratimi sui Discorsi 

del Machiavelli, Op. Ined. i. 75. 

42. Cf. Nos, 217, 396. 

43. Ct No. 340. 

44. Cf. Na 224. Opposed to the ophiion put forward 

by MachiaTelli, Principe, cap. 18, that it may be 
better to seem than to be good. 

45. Cf. No. 386. A saying dted by Gia Ruceliai in his 

ZibcUdone: " Disse un nostro cittadino che trovava 
che gli aveva fatto phi onore undenarorisparmiato 
che cento spesi." 

46. Cf. Na 260 ; and see Del Reggimento di Firenu, 

Op, Ined. ii. 77 : "A conservare bene la giustizia 
basterebbe assai, da quelli in fuora che sono 
molto atroci, che i delitti fussino puniti a 12 soldi 
per Ih^, pare che fussino puniti tntti." 

47. Cf. No. 313. 

48. Ct No. 3t7 ; and see Del Reggimento di Firente, 

Op. Ined. ii. 211, where the same reflection is 
expressed in almost identical language. With 
the view of Guicciardini that States cannot be 
goremed in accordance with the moral law, 
compare the saying of Cosimo de' Medici, " Gli 
Stati non si tengono con i patemostri in mano," 
d.nd the saying of Gino Capponi that for "the 
•Ten of the War* such men only should be 
chosen as loved their country more than their 

NOTES. 177 


49. Cf. Nos. 88, 370. 

50. Cf. Na 2757 where, however, other names are cited. 

** John of Poppi" having acquired, while em- 
ployed in some subordinate capacity in the 
Chancery, of 'The Ten," an intimate knowledge 
of official business, was taken into their service 
by the Medicean rulers as a useful instrument of 
their Government. Nardi, Hist, di Firenne, ed. 
Le Monnier, vol. ii. p. 60. In 1517 he was 
secretary to Lorenzo di Piero de' Medici. Ist, 
d Italia, Book xiii. (vol. iii. p. 210). He is fre- 
quently referred to in the correspondence con- 
nected with Guicciardini's Legaxione delt Emilia, 
Op. Ined. voL vii. 

51. Cf. No. 275. 

52-53. Cf. Nos. 348-349. Corbinelli, in a supplementary 
note to No. 21 of his Collection, relates, on the 
authority of M. Isidoro Ruberti, secretary to 
the Nuncio at the French Court, that Cardinal 
Colonna, being denied by Pope Qement VII. 
certain favours he had asked of him, upbraided 
his Holiness with having been made Pope 
through his efforts. Whereupon Clement an- 
swered that what he said was true; but he 
prayed him to leave him Pope, and not himself 
usurp the functions; otherwise he would be 
taking from him what he had before given. 

54. Cf. No. 391. The proverb "Time is life" (chi ha 

tempo ha vita) is quoted in the Discorsi Politici, 
Op. Ined. I 313. 

55. Cf. No. 278. 

56. Cf. No. 384. The Florentme Grosso or Grossone was 

properly equivalent to twenty-one Quattrini only, 

57. Cf. No. 367. 

59. As to the timidity of Pope Clement, see also Nos. 
i94> 3^1 \ ^^^ compare Ist, d Italia, Book xvi. 

178 NOTES. 


(voL iv. p. 69) : " N6 avendo, per la memoria di 
avere temuto molte volte vanamente, preso espe- 
rienza, di non si lasdaie soprai&re al timore." 
6a Ct No. 337. 

61. Cf. No. 299. 

62. As to what measures find favour with popular govern- 

ments, see Machiavelli, Discorsi, i. 53. 

63. Cf. No. 285. 

64. These remarks on the change in methods of warfare 

are repeated and expanded in the 1st, cC Italia, 
Book XV. (vol. iii. p. 422), in connection with the 
death of Prospero Colonna, which took place in 
the year 1523. 

66. Cf. No. 328, and see Del Reggimenio di Firenu, Op. 

Ined. ii. 55 : " Se questi che predicano la liberty 
credessino in uno Stato stretto avere per particulare 
suo migliore condizione che in uno libero, ne res- 
terebbe pochi che non vi corressino per le poste." 

67. Cf. No. 344. 

68. Cf. Nos. 237-238, and see DelReggimentodi Firenze, 

Op. Ined. ii. 87-89, where the subject of neu- 
trality in war is treated in nearly identical terms. 
See also 1st. d Italia, Book x. (voL il p. 428) : 
'• La neutrality nelle guerre degli altri essere cosa 
laudabile," &c. ; and again 1st, d! Italia, Book 
xi. (vol. iii. pp. 13-14). The author had studied 
the observations of Machiavelli, Principe, cap. 
21 ; Discorsi, i. 38 ; ii. 15. 

69. Qt No. 338. 

70. Cf. No. 283. 

71. Cf. No, 34 and note, 

72. Cf. Na 256. 

73. See speech ascribed to the Duke of Alva, 1st, d Italia, 

Book xvi. (vol iv. p. 30) ; " Cos! I'usarono Alles- 
sandro e Cesare che fiirono liberali a perdonare 
le ingiurie, non inconsiderati," &c. 

NOTES. 179 


74. Cf. No. 902 ; and see the speech assigned to Antonio 
Grimani, 1st. d Italia, Book iv, (voL i. p. 339), 
where a reputation for readiness to resent injuries 
is declared to be most necessary; "non tanto 
per il piacere della vendetta, quanto perchd la 
penitenza di chi t' ha offeso sia tale esempio agli 
altri che non ardiscano provocartL" 

76. Gf. No. 336, and see Del Reggimento di Firenu, Op. 

Ined. ii. 24 : " Cosl tutto quello che 6 stato per 
il passato, parte k al presente, parte ssixk in altrl 
tempi, e og^i di ritoma in essere, ma sotto varie 
coperte e varii colori, in modo che," &c. See 
also letter from Guicciardini to Machiavelli. 
dated Modena, i8th May 1531, Opere di 
Machiavelli (ed. Italia, 1813), voL viii. p. 160: 
" Vedl che mutati sono i visi degli uomini ed i 
colori estrinseci; le cose meuesime tutte ritor- 
nano, n6 vediamo accidente alcuno che a altri 
tempi non sia stato veduto." 

77. Cf. No. 273. In a letter written by Guicciardini 

during his Spanish embassy. Op. Ined. vi. 172, 
he speaks of the difficulty of ascertaining what 
the designs of the Spanish statesmen really were : 
" Molte volte pubblicano il contrario di quello che 
gli hanno in animo." 

78. Cf. No. 339; ^6&dXso Del Reggimento di Firen»e,Oip. 

Ined. ii. 190: " Le medesime imprese che fatte 
fiiora di tempo sono difficillime o impossibili, 
diventano facillime quando sono accompagnate 
dal tempo e dalla occasione; e a chi le tenta 
fuora del tempo suo, non solo non gli riescono, 
ma h periculo che lo averle tentate non le guasti 
per a quello tempo che facllmente sarebbono 
riuscite: e questa 6 una delle ragioni che i 
pazienti sono tenuti savii." 

79. Cf. No. 298. 

i8o NOTES. 


8a Cf. Na 364. 

81. "It is good to guard adventures with certainties 

that may uphold losses. " — Bacon's Essays. ' ' 0/ 

82. Cf. Na 347. 

83. Cf. Na 297, 

84. Cf. No. 321. In the counsels left by Gino di Neri 

Capponi for the guidance of his son he says, 
that " he who would attain to a great position in 
his native city must not leave it too often, nor for 
any but important afi^rs." 

85. Ct Na 360. 

86. Cf. No. 35a and note, 

87. CI No. 295. 

88. Cf. Nos. 49, 270. 

89. Cf:366. 

9a Other counsels to courtiers are given in Nos. 94, 195, 
356. 370* 

91. Cf. No. 329. 

9a. Cf. No. 147 ; and see 1st. dItcUia, Book vi. (vol. ii. 
p. 21), where, moralising on the death of Pope 
Alexander VL, Guicciardini observes that though 
stained with every vice he had alvrays prospered : 
"esempio potente a confondere I'arroganza di 
coloro i quali presumendosi di scorgere con la 
debolezza degli occbi umani la profonditii dei 
giudizi divini, afifermano che ci6 che di prospero 
o d' awerso awiene agli uomini precede o dai 
meriti o dai demeriti loro." 

93. Cf. No. 316. The Duke of Ferrara referred to was 

Alfonso I. d'Elste, who died in 1534. In the 1st, 
£ Italia, Book xiiL (vol. iii. p. 270) Guicciardini 
again says of him that in many respects he was 
more of a merchant than a prince. 

94. Cf. No. 84, and see No. 90 and note. 

95. Cf. No. 311, and see No. 347. Writing of the 

NOTES. i8i 

assault of Parma by the French troops on the 
2ist December 1521, Guicciardini says, " Si mis- 
ono con tanto impeto in luogo, cbe non so se 
questa si debba chiamare animosity o bestialitii." 
Op. Ined. vii. 38a 

96. Cf. No. 312, and see /sL ct Italia, Book ilL (vol. i. 

p. 237), the speech assigned to the Doge Agostino 
Barbarico, in which the same topic is similarly 
treated. See also No. 116. 

97. Cf. No. 252. Giulio de' Medici was created Pope 

on the 19th November 1523, when he assumed 
the title of Clement VII. Ferrante Francesco 
d'Avalas, Marquis of Pescara, husband of the 
celebrated poetess Vittoria Colonna, served with 
distinction in the Italian wars of the Emperor 
Charles V. His reputation was obscured by 
his connection with the intrigues of Girolamo 
Morone. He died in 1525. The Reflection is 
repeated nearly verbatim in the/f/. dP Italia, Book 
V. (vol. i. p. 456): *• L'esperienza dimostra essere 
verissimo che rare volte succede quel che k, deside- 
ratodamolti ; perch6 dependendo communemente 
gliefifettidelleazioni umanedallavolontiide' pochi, 
ed essendo I'intenzione e i fini di quest! quasi 
sempre diversi dallaintenzionee da' fini de' molti, 
possono difficilmente succedere le cose altrimenti 
che secondo I'intenzione di coloro che danno loro 
•il moto." 
98-99. Cf. Nos. 130, 304. See also Del Reggimento di 
Pirenxe, Op. Ined. ii. 61 : •• Vi dico essere vero 
che uno che ha lo Stato in mano ha rispetto di 
non fare alcuno si grande che gli possa portare 
pericolo, e pid teme da' valenti uomini che dagli 
altri, perch6 sono atti a maggiori cose; nondi- 
meno, se k prudente, si governa con modo e con 
distinzione, facendo differenza da uno che k savio 

i82 NOTES. 

e non animoso, e uno che h savio, animoso, 
e non inquieto, e da qnesti a chi ha ingegno, e 
animo, e inquietudine ; co' primi procederi lar- 
gamente ; co' second! bene, con qnalcbe rispetto 
pid ; CO* terzi andri pid stretto." 

lOo. Cf. No. 305. Machiavelli, Discorsi, iii. 2, declares 
the course here recommended to be impracticable. 

loi. CC No, 304. 

T02. Cf. Nos. 54, 391. 

103. Cf. Nos. 303, 326. 

104. Cf. Nos. 267-268, and see Machiavelli, Principe, 

cap. 18. See also Bacon's Essays. '^ Of Simula- 
tion and Dissimulation^ In the 1st, dP Italia, 
Book vi. (vol ii. p. 32), the author cites Pope 
Julius II. as having followed the methods here 
recommended, to enable him to obtain the 

105. In the 1st. d Italia, Book iv. (vol. i. p. 359), 

Guicciardini, however, says that when once a 
man has got a name for deceiving, no one will 
trust him ; and in Book zi. (vol. iil p. 49) that we 
can neither excuse nor pity the man who, having 
once been deceived by another, afterwards gives 
him his confidence. By ** tke Catholic King" 
is here meant Ferdinand of Aragon, to whose 
character for dissimulation Machiavelli also 
refers, Principe, cap. 18, without naming him. 

106. Cf. No. 388. The anxieties of the Florentine father 

of daughters had long before been touched upon 
by Dante, Par, xv. 103-105. By his wife, Maria 
Salviati, Guicciardini had five children, all of them 
daughters : Romola Simona, who died in infancy ; 
Margherita Simona, born 14th April 1512, 
during her father's absence on his Spanish 
embassy; Lucretia, bom 1514, died 1527; 
Laodamia, married to Pandolfo Pucci who was 

NOTES. 183 

hanged by Duke Cosimo de' Medici in 1560; 
and Lisabetta, In the Lettere Familiari of 
Machiavelli a curious correspondence is pre- 
served, extending from 17th August 1525 to 2nd 
June 1526, wherein Machiavelli reports the 
efforts he had made to secure a husband for 
Margherita. From the last letter of the series 
it may be inferred that the youth for whom she 
was intended was Giovambatista, son of Lorenzo 
Strozzi. But the young man's father, though 
otherwise well-disposed to the match, stood out 
for a larger dower than Guicciardini was able or 
willing to give, and the arrangement fell through. 
Machiavelli would seem to have conducted the 
negotiations with much zeal and address. In 
one of his letters, without date, he advises 
Guicciardini to apply to Pope Clement to help 
him to make up his daughter's dower to the 
required amount, and even suggests the sub- 
stance of the communication which he thinks 
might be written to his Holiness on the subject. 
Guicciardini does not appear to have followed 
this counsel, and Margherita was eventually 
married to Piero, eldest son of Niccol6 Capponi, 
to the great mortification of Tommaso Soderini, 
who wanted Piero to wed a daughter of his own. 
Varchi, Storia Fiorentina, T. i. 397 ; Nerli, 
Commentarii, Book viii. (Augsburg ed. p. 171). 
According to Bernardo Segni, Storie Fiorentine, 
Book viii. (Augsburg ed. p. 217), Guicciardini 
met with a bitter disappointment in failing to 
marry his daughter Lisabetta to Cosimo de' 
Medici, whose election as Signor of Florence he 
had been induced to favour in prospect of this 
alliance. In the Meditation dated September 
1527, printed in the Ricordi Autdbiografici, Op. 


Ined. z. 104-105, in recidog the Tarioas disad- 
vantages attending his loss of the governorship 
of the Romagna, Guicdardini refers to the diffi- 
cnlties be most now have in obtaining sniuble 
matches for his daughters. 

107. Cf. Machiavelli» Discorsi^ ii. 2 : ** Di tutte le servitu 

dare quella h dorissima cbe ti sottomette ad una 
repubblica . . . percb^ il fine ddla repubblica h 
enervareed indebolire, per accrescere il corposuo, 
tutti gli altri corpi. II che non fa un prindpe che 
ti sottometta," &c. In the Consideraxioni sui 
DUcorsi del MachiaveUi^ Op. Ined. i. 28, Guicci- 
ardini speculates as to whether, on the whole, it 
might not have been for the advantage of Italy 
to have fallen under the government of a sole 
monarch : " Essendo il costume ddle repubbliche 
non partedpare e frutti della sua liberty e imperio 
a altri cbe a' suoi cittadini proprii." 

108. Cf. No. 374. 

109. Cf. No. 365 and note. In the Del Reggimento di 

Firentet Op. Ined. il 25, Bernardo del Nero is 
made to say: "Chi introdusse le liberty non 
ebbe per suo fine che ognuno si intromettessi 
nel govemare; ma lo intento suo fu perch^ si 
conservassino le leggi e il bene commuue, il 
quale, quando uno govema bene, si conser\'a 
meglio sotto lui che in altro govemo." 

1 10. This may be meant as a protest against Machiavelli's 

inferences from Roman examples, 
iii-iia. Cf. Del Reggimento diFirenze, Op. Ined. ii. 86 : 
"Se mettete insieme otto o dieci savii, nasce 
qualche volta tra loro tale variety che saranno 
giudicati pazri." &c. "Antonio of Venafra," 
minister to Pandolfo Petnicci, Lord of Siena, 
is much commended by Machiavelli in the 
Principe, cap. 22. 



113. Cf. No, 290. 

114. Cf. No. 393. 

115. The Monte was the consolidated Public Debt of 

Florence. As to its origin and character, see 
Cronica di Afatteo Viilani, Book iii. cap. 106; 
and Varchi, Storia Fiorentina, T. iii. 33-34. In 
the year 151 1 more than a third of the revenue 
of the State went to pay the interest on the 
public debt. Op. Ined. ii. 265, note. 

116. Cf. No. 96 and note, 

117. Cf. Nos. 6, no. " & senza dubbio molto periculoso 

il govemarsi con gli esempi, se non concorrono 
non solo in generale ma in tutti i particolari le 
roedesime ragioni." 1st, cT Italia, Book i. (vol. i. 
p. 87). 

118. Cf. No. 327, and see Nos. 32, 223. ** Fame is the 

spur that the clear spirit doth raise." 

119. Cf. No. 387. 

120. Cf. No. 244. 

121. Cf. No. 37a 

122. " Compound for sins they are inclined to 

By damning those they have no mind to." 

123. " So that it may not be amiSSt* 6*^. Compare No. 

211, at the end. 

124. *' And yet perhaps** ^c. See Machiavelli, Z?»Vtfrw, 

I 12. 
ia6. Cf. No. 213 : " TV reckon the least evil as a good," 
Machiavelli, Principe, cap. 21. See too 1st, 
d^ Italia, Book il (vol i. pp. 207-208), and Book 
xii. (vol. iii. p. 112). 

127. Cf. No. 250. 

128. Cf. Nos. 151, 319. See also Discorsi Politici, Op. 

Ined. i. 231 : " Chi ha a fare pronostico delle 
deliberazioni di altri, non debbe tanto andare 
con la roistua di quello che ragionevolmente 
doverebbe Care uno savio, quanto con b misura 


del cervdlo. natina, e akre condiaoni di cbi ha a 
ddiberare; e cbi prooede altrimenti spesso si 
inganna." And see the spcedi pat into the month 
of Nicco)6 Foscarini, fst, ^Italia, Book vii (vol. 
it p. 150). In the Advancement of Learning, 
\jOTd Bacon relates." It was both pleasantly and 
wisely said, though I think very untruly, by a 
Nuncio of the Pope returning from a certain 
nation where be had served as lidger, whose 
opinion being asked touching the appointment 
of one to go in his place, he wished that in any 
case they did not send one that was too wise, 
because no very wise man would ever imagine 
what they in that countiy were like to do." 

129. Cf. Na 3sa 

13a Cf. No. 98 and note, 

131. Cf. No. 306, and see Consideraxioni sui Discorsi del 
Machiavelli, Op. Ined. L 35 : "Chi k disperato 
non aspetta le occasioni. ma le cerca," &c. 

133. Cf. No. 324. 

134-135- Cf. Nos. 225-226, and see Del Reggimento di 
Firenze, Op. Ined. ii. 74 75, where the same 
observations occur in nearly the same words : 
" lo vi dico che per natura tutti gli uomini sono 
inclinati al bene," &c. 

136. Cf. No. I and note. The allusion to the successful 
resistance made by the Florentines up to the 
time when this Reflection was written, is of impor- 
tance as fixing the date when the whole of the 
foregoing Reflections must have been entered by 
Guicciardini in his commonplace book. 

138. Cf. No. 302. The quotation is from Seneca, Epist, 
\trj. In the 1st, d^ Italia, Book xvi. (vol. iv. p. 57) 
the idea is paraphrased : " Non h cosa alcuna 
piji diflicile a schifare che il Fato, nessuno 
rimedio h contra i rpali determinati." 

NOTES. 187 


140. Cf. No. 345. In the Considerationi svi Discorsi 
del Machiavelli, Op. Ined. i. 56, the author com- 
pares the people to the waves of the sea, driven 
one way or another by the wind that happens to 
prevail: "Non sanza cag^ione h assomigliata la 
moltitudine alle onde del mare, le quali, secondo e 
venti che tirano, vanno ora in qu^ ora in Id,, 
sanza alcuna regola, sanza alcwia fermezza." 

142. Cf. Isf. d Italia, Book i. (vol. i. p. 28); "Qual 

maggior felicity pu6 avere Principe alcuno che 
le deliberazioni dalle quali risulta la gloria e la 
grandezza propria, siano accompagnate da cir- 
costanze e conseguenze tali, che apparisca che 
elle si facciano non meno per benefizio e per 
salute universale, e molto pid per I'esaltazione 
di tutta la Repubblica Cristiana?" As to the 
•• Catholic King," see Ist. d Italia, Book xii. (vol. 
iii. p. 183), where he is said to have cloaked all 
his ambitious schemes "sotto colore di onesto 
zelo della religione, e di santa intenzione al bene 
comune." Compare Machiavelli, Principe, cap. 
21 ; and see supra, note to No. 105. 

143. The remarks here made might seem intended by 

Guicciardini to meet criticism on the prolixity of 
his own history. 

144. Cf. No. 351. TheCastilian proverb, ''El kilo per 

lo masdelgado quebra," is also cited by Bacon in 
his Essay ** Of Seditions and Troubles" but not 
with the meaning here given it. An interview 
with the Spanish Secretary at the time when the 
news of the treaty between the French and the 
Venetians had just arrived in Spain, is recorded 
in the Legatione della Spagna, Op. Ined. vl 207. 

145. Cf. No. 320. 

147. Cf. Nos. 91-92, and sec also No. 1. 

148. Canestrini informs us that on the margin of his 


manuscript the author had here written : La 
andata nostra a Cremona. The reference is to 
the siege of Cremona by the joint forces of the 
Pope and the Venetians in 1526. Owing to 
inadequate preparations on the part of the assail- 
ants, the town was able to hold out for nearly 
two months. See the letters of Guicciardini in 
La Luojptenenxa GeneraUt Op. Ined. iv. pp. 143- 
/^12 passim, 

149. This Reflection probably relates to the campaign 
referred to in the preceding note. 

15a Here again Canestrini tells us that the author had 
noted on the margin : Duca di Urbino, Fran- 
cesco Maria della Rovere, Duke of Urbino, who 
commanded the Venetian contingent in the cam- 
paign of 1526, had an old score to settle with 
the Church, and was believed by Guicciardini to 
have shown remissness, if not treachery, in his 
conduct of the war. Compare IsU d Italia, Book 
xvi. (vol iv. p. ao), where the reference is to the 
Duke of Ferrara. The Reflection had been made 
before by Machiavelli, Discorsi, iil.17. 

151. Cf. No. 138 and note, 

153. Cf. Discorsi Politici, Op. Ined. i. 299: *'fe pid 
da temere che uno imbasciadore che k appresso 
a uno principe, gli creda e favorisca le cose sue 
piii che il debito, che le diminuisca o le abbatta." 

155. Cf. No, 393, and see Consideraxioni sui Discorsi 

del Machiavelli t Op. Ined. i. 52. 

156. In the 1st, d Italia, Book xvi. (vol. iv. p. 69), where 

he contrasts the characters of the Popes Leo and 
Clement, he says of the latter what he here says 
of himself: "Parendogli sempre poichfe aveva 
deliberato che il consiglio stato riflutato da lui 
fosse migliore ; perchfe rappresentandosegli allora 
innansi solamente queste ragioni che erano state 

NOTES. 189 

neglette da lui, non rivocava nel suo discorso le 
ragioni che I'avevano mosso a eleggere," &c. 

157. Cf. No. 90X. 

158. ** A good name is better than much riches ;" but 

compare Na 240, where he says that without 
riches a good name can hardly be preserved. 
See too No. 363. 

162. Cf. No. 395. 

163. Cf. No. 258. d/)x^) id'Jptt delKVwri, The saying is 

quoted by Guicciardini in the concluding words 
of the Istoria d Italia: "ifc verissimo e dcgno 
di somma laude quel proverbio che il Magistrato 
fa manifesto il valore di chi I'esercita." 

164. Cf. 1st, dltalia^ Book xiv. (vol. iii. p. 284) ; 

*' Non hanno gli uomini maggiore inimico che la 
troppa prosperity" 

165. Cf. No. 355. 

167. See speech given to the Duke of Alva, 1st, cC Italia, 

Book xvi. (vol, iv. p. 29) : " Dov' k la leggierezza 
non h cognizione di virtd, non giudizio di dis- 
cemere le azioni di altri, non gravitit damisurare 
quello che convenga a se stesso." 

168. Compare Del Reggimento di Firente, Op. Ined. ii. 

62 : " Quello che si fa studiosamente suole avere 
peso e misura ; ma la ignoranza^ cieca, confusa, 
e sanza termine o regola ; e per6 dice il proverbio, 
che spesso k meglio avere a fare col maligno che 
con lo ignorante." 

169. Cf. No. 243. 

171. In a note on this Reflection Canestrini suggests that 
the contempt expressed by Guicciardini for these 
Florentine envoys was inspired by his hatred of 
the free government established in Florence in 
1527, by the party to which they belonged. But 
the terms in which these men are mentioned by 
Varcbi, who was himself favourable to the Re- 


publican cause, show that Guicciardini's disdain- 
ful notice of them was not undeserved. Baldas- 
sare Carducci, being then over seventy years of- 
age, went as ambassador to France in December 
1528, where he died in August 1530. Bartolommeo 
GualterotH, ** uomo anzi buono e amorevole che 
aweduto e valente," was appointed ambassador 
to Venice in March 1529. Bardo AltovUi, " gio- 
vane tanto vano e ambizioso che niuna cosa era 
n^ tanto buona n^ cod rea, che non la boria e 
vana gloria sua fatto fare non gli avessero," was 
appointed envoy to Siena in June 1529. Galeotto 
Giugnit " burbero e zotico di natura, e se non 
bizzarro, rotto e iroso molto," was appointed am- 
bassador to Ferrara at the same time as Bardo 
Altoviti to Siena. As all these embassies ter- 
minated on the fall of the Florentine Republic, 
the reference to them as then existing, taken in 
connection with the dates supplied in Reflections 
Nos. I and 136, shows that the present Reflection 
also was written while the siege of Florence was 
still proceeding. 

172. . Ct No.- 314. ' ' I govern! non furono trovati per 
fare onore e utile a chi ha a governare, ma per 
benefizio di chi ha a essere govemato." Del 
Reggimento di Firenu, Op. Ined. iL 55. 

173. Cf. Nos. 394, 315. The opinion that a prodigal is 

better liked by his subjects than a saving prince, 

is repeated, 1st, d Italia, Book xii. (vol. iii. p. 

* 183), where Guicciardini considers the character 

of Ferdinand the Catholic. 

174-175. CC No. 259, "^ impossibile che uno uomo 
qualificato possa riposare in una cittii dove il 
capo dello stato stretto non lo reputa amico ; nh 
pu6 difendersene col non travagliarsi, o col non 
lo ofifendere ; perch^ a ogui ora nascono inflniti 

NOTES. 191 


casi che di necessity bisogna capitargli alle mani." 
Del Reggimento di Firenu, Op. Ined. ii. 71. 
176. Cf. No. 368. 

181. As to Guicciardini's methods of governing, see his 

letter of instructions to his brother Jacopo on his 
succeeding to the government of the Romagna, 
Op. Ined, viii, 393. 

182. Cf. No. 394. 

183. This maxim is put into the mouth of Giangiacopo 

Trivulzi. 1st, d Italia, Book ix. (vol. ii. p. 340). 

184. Cf. No. 186 and note, 

185. Cf. No. 229: 

186. Cf. Nos. 184, 235, and see Bacon, Advancement 

of Learning: "The second (precept) is to keep 
a good mediocrity in liberty of speech and secrecy ; 
in most things liberty ; secrecy where it importeth : 
for liberty of speech inviteth and provoketh liberty 
to be used again." As to discretion being a safer 
guide than books, see No. 6. 
188. Cf. No. 397, 

193. " There be many cautious methods of writing." 

Writing in cipher was constantly practised by 
Guicciardini himself, both in official and private 
communications. Varchi, in the Storia Fioren- 
tina, T. ii. 183, refers to the case of a certain 
Lapo del Tovaglia. who on his confession that 
he had seen Baccio Valori and Messer Francesco 
Guicciardini writing a letter with lemon-juice, 
was put to the rack to elicit further disclosures. 
The danger of written communication between 
conspirators had been touched upon by Machia> 
velli, Discorsi, iii. 6. 

194. Cf. Nos. 59, 213, 381. 

197. " The Quarantia, As to the constitution and pro- 
cedure of this tribunal, see Varchi, Storia Fioren- 
tina, T. i. 225-234. 

192 NOTES. 


199. Cf. No 37 and im^ 

aoi. Cf. No. 157. 

ao2. Cf. Na 74. " Some, when they take revenge, are 
desirous the party should know whence it cometh. 
This is the more generous." — Bacon's Essays, 
" QfRevet^:* 

90^ Cf. Na 335. 

204. In the InstrucHcHs to his brother Jacopo when ap^ 
pointed to succeed him in the government of the 
Romagna, Guiociardini writes : " E fatica grande 
difendersi da' ladri, massime dai govematori e dai 
bargelli ; i primi sono eccessivi nel pigliare le 
sportule e ne' pagamenti delle loro canoellerie ; 
gli altri nelle catture ed esecuzioni sue." Op. 
Ined. viii. 408. 

905. " Twice I have held high command,** On the first 
occasion in the year 1521 as commissary of the 
forces of Pope Leo X. co-operating with the 
Emperor Charies V. against the King of France. 
In the 1st, d*ltalia^ Book xiv. passim^ Guicci- 
ardini blames the general -in -chief, Prospero 
Colonna, for his excessive slowness and caution 
in the conduct of this campaign. The second 
occasion on which Guicciardini held military 
command was in the campaign of 1526, referred 
to in No. 148 and note, 

Qxyj, Cf. Nos. 57, 3iS7. 

909. Cf. No. 289. 

211. •' Faculty of foretelling the future " &c. The dis- 

tinction between prediction of the future practised 
as an art, and prophecy under divine afflatus, is 
again noted. 1st, d Italia, Book i. (vol. i. p. 67). 
** Are secret powers of Nature,* 6v. Compare 
concluding sentence of Na 123. 

212. Cf. Nos. 109, 354. The Reflection is put into the 

mouth of Bernardo del Nero in the Dialogue 

NOTES, 193 

Del Reggimento di Firenxe, Op. Ined. iu 139- 
130: "Dopo il governo di uno h lodato in 
secondo luogo quello di pochi, quando sono i 
migliori, e per6 si chiamano Ottimati : goverao 
che a giudicio mio in ogni luogo ha molte difficult^ 
a essere buono, ma a Firenze sopra tutti li altri ; 
perch^ da una casa all' altra non h tanto eccesso, 
n6 ci sono qualitit si rilevate, che questa distin- 
zione possi farsi se non per forza," &c. To the 
same effect, see the speech assigned to Pagolan- 
tonio Soderini, Isi. d^ Italia, Book ii. (vol. i. p. 
130). But in the Consideraxioni sui Discorsi del 
Machiavelli, Op. Ined. i. 16, Guicciardini says : 
" Quando fussi necessitato mettere in una citt^ 
o uno governo meramente di nobili, o uno 
governo di plebe, creder6 sia manco errore farlo di 
nobili. . . . E questa conclusione h secondo la 
sentenza di tutti quelli che hanno scritto delle 
republiche, che prepongono il governo degli 
ottimati a quello della moltitudine." And see 
ibid,, p. 55. In the Storia Fiorentina, T. i. 
398, Varchi says of our author: '*Egli arebbe 
voluto uno Stato col nome d'Ottimati, ma in 
fatti di pochi, nel quale larghissima parte, per 
le sue molte e rarissime qualitil, meritissima- 
mente gli si venia." Compare Villari, Machia- 
vein e suoi Tempi, vol ii. p. 256. 
213. Cf. Nos. 126, 194. 

215. Cf. Nos. 22, 284, 399. 

216. Cf. No. 373, and see the Meditation printed in 

the Ricordi Autobiografici, Op. Ined. x. 128 : 
" Dicono alcuni savi che la vita nostra k simile 
a una commedia, nella quale, a dare laude a 
coloro che vi recitano, non si attende tanto che 
persona ciascuno sostenga, quanto se porta bene 
la persona che ha.". 


194 NOTES. 


317. Cf. Nos. 43, 596. 

a2a CC N08. 330, 358 and tuffes ; and see Del Reggi- 
mentodi Firenu, Op. Ined. it 71 : " Non mi pare 
giii cbe se la niala fortuna loro o la disposizione 
de' cieli ha voluto che surga uno tiranno, che si 
debba dare nota di cattivo cittadino a quelli che, 
poi che il tiranno sanza opera loro h introdotto, 
si sforzano, non mutando costumi e non usando 
male la autoritit che avessino, a avere luogo 
nello Stato stretto ; e massime quelli che sono 
di qualche condizione, perch^ se vogUono giocare 
al largo, vengono presto al sospetto di essere 
inimid dello Stato." 

231. Machiavelli, Discorsi, ii. 35, has a similar remark 
as to the danger of attacking a city split into 

Here ends a series of Reflections which we 
may believe to have been written by Guicciardini 
at Rome in the year 1530, between the months of 
May and August. From an entry in the author's 
handwriting, we learn that the Reflections which 
follow, as far as No. 393, were transcribed by 
him in the beginning of the year 1528, ** at a 
time when ke had much leisure" into a fresh 
note-book from other note-books written before 
1535. Another entry, likewise in the author's 
handwriting, inserted in the manuscript between 
Nos. 393 and 394, informs us that this transcrip- 
tion had been interrupted, but was resumed in 
April 1538, when it is probable that the few 
remaining Reflections were added. The series of 
Reflections extending from No. i to No. 33i is 
consequently, contrary to the view taken by M. A. 

NOTES, 195 

Geffroy at p. 678 of the Revue des-Deux Mondes, 
ist February 1874, of later date than the series 
No. 822 to Na 403. 

223. Cf. No. 32 and note, 

224. Cf. No. 44 and note, 
225-226. Cf. Nos. 134-135 and note. 
227-228. Perhaps ironical. 

229. Cf. No. 185. 

231. See Discorso terxo intomo alk tnutationi e riforme, 

Op. Ined. ii. 262 : ** Dae ragioni principali mi 
fanno credere che la nostra cittii in processo di 
non.molti anni, se Dio evidentemente non la 
ajuta, abbi a perdere la liberty e stato suo." 

232. Plain sense and fine parts are again contrasted in 

Nos. 60 and 337. 
235. Cf. Nos. 88, 186, 270. 
237-238. Cf. No. 68 and note, 
240-241. Cf. Nos. 158, 218, 363. 
342. Cf. No. 372. 

243. Cf. No. 169. 

244. Cf. No. 120. 

246. Cf. No. 2, 

247. Cf. No. 82. 

248. See speech of Demarata, daughter of Hiero of 

Syracuse, Livy, Book xxiv, 22: "Facile esse 
momento quo quis velit cedere possessione 
magnae fortunse : facere et parare earn, difficile 
atque arduum." 

249. "Lasciarsi trasportare dagli sdegni contro alia 

utilitii propria ^ leggierezza." Ist, cP Italia, Book 
iv. (vol i. p. 345). 

250. Cf. No. 127. 

252. Cf. No. 97 and note. 

196 NOTES. 


S54. Cf. Na #01. "// ias teem truly taid^' &»c. By 
MftchiaveUi. Dha^rsi, ii. s. "One of the doctc^ 
of Italy, Nicholas Machiavd. had &e confidence 
to put in writing, almost in plaine terms, that 
the Christian faith had given up good men in 
prey to those that are t3n*annicall and unjust. 
Which he spake because, indeed, there was never 
law, or sect, or opinion did so much magnify 
goodness as the Christian religion doth. There- 
fore, to avoid the. scandal and the danger both, 
it is good to take knowledge of the errours of a 
habit so excellent. "^Bacon's Essays, "Cf Good- 
ness and Goodness of Nature." 

255. Cf. No. 27. 

256. Cf, No. 72, 

257. Cf. Nos. 6, 343. 

258. Cf. No. 163 and note. 

259. Cf. Nos. 174-175 and note. 

260. Cf. No, 46 and note, 
261-262. Cf. No. 5 and note, 

263-264. Cf. Nos. 24-25 and note; and see Machiavelli, 

Discorsi, i. 29, citing Tacitus, Hist, iv. 2. 
26$. Cf. Nos. II, 390. 
266. Cf. No. 14. 
267-268. Cf. Nos. 104, 105 and notes, 

269. Cf. No. 37 and note, 

270. Cf. Nos. 49, 88. 

271. See Machiavelli, Discorsi, iii. 6. 

273. Cf. No. 77 and note. 

274. Cf. Nos. 30-31 and note. 

275. Cf. No. 51. 

276. CU No. 50 and note. ' ' Mesur Goro. " Goro Gheri 

da Pistoja is mentioned by Varchi as one of the 
agents employed by the Medici to carry on 
their government in Florence, and a« greatly de- 
tested on account of his arrogance and rudeness. 

NOTES. 197 

Scoria Fiorentina, T. i. 70. Many letters pass- 
ing between Messer Goio and Guicciardini 
during the years 1516-1518, at the time when 
the latter was governor of the Emilian Province, 
are printed in the seventh volume of the Opere 
Inedite, In a letter to Jacopo Salviati, dated 
June 12, 1526, Op. Ined. iv. 46, Guicciardini 
writes: "Intendo che Messer Goro sta molto 
male : quando mancassi vi raccomando la cosa 
di Messer Niccold secondo la fede che Luigi 
ed io abbiamo in voi." This '* Messer Niccol6" 
may possibly have been Niccol6 Macbiavelli. 
for whom, in the previous year, Salviati had 
endeavoured to obtain employment from Pope 
Clement. See Villari« N, M€uhiavelli e suoi 
Tempi, iii. 324. 

277. Cf. No, 20. 

278. Cf. No. 55. 

279. Ct No. 17 and note, 
281-282. Cf. Nos. 15-16 and note, 

283. Cf. Na 70. 

284. Ct No. 22 and not€^ 
285-286. Cf. Nos. 63, i6a 
287. Cf. No. 33. 

28a. a. No. 391 
289. Cf. No. 909. 
29a Cf. Nos. 113. 
291. Cf. Nos. 4, 359. 
290-093. Cf. No. la 

294. Cf. No. 173, and see Macbiavelli, Principe, cap. 16. 

295. Cf. No. 87. 

296. Cf. No. 40. 

297. Cf. No. 83. 

298. Cf. No. 79. 

299. Cf. No. 61. 

300. Cf. No. 13 and note. 

198 NOTES. 


301. Cf. No. la 

302. Cf. No. 138 and noU, 

303. Cf. No. 103. 

304. Cf. Nos. 98-99 and t^ie. See also No. loi. 

305. CC No. 100 and note. 

306. Cf. No. 131 and noie. 

307. Cf. No. 41 and moie. 

308. CL No. 26. 

309. Cf. No. 36. 
31a Cf. Noi. 7-8. 

311. Cf. No. 95 and Hote. 
313. Cf. No. 96 and note. 

313. Cf. No. 47. 

314. Cf. No. 172 and note, 

315. Cf. Na 173 and no^. 

316. Cf. Na 93 and note, 

317. Cf. No. 48 and note. 

318. Ct No. 33 and note. 

319. Cf. No. 128 and note. 

320. Cf. No. 145. 

321. Cf. No. S4 and note. " Di cosa nasce cosa." The 

proverb is cited by Macbiavelli, Mandragolat 
Act i, Sc. I. 

322. Cf. No. 9, 

323. " Memoriae proditur Tiberium quotiens cnria egre- 

deretur, Graecis verbis in hunc modum eloqui 
solitum: O homines ad servitutem faraiosi 
Sdlioet etiam ilium qui Ubertatem publicam nol- 
let, tarn projectse servientium patientiae tsede- 
bat."— Tacitus, Ann. iii. 65. 

324. Cf. No. 133. 

325. Cf. No. 34 and noie. 

326. Cf. Nos. 103, 303. 

327. Cf. No. 118 and note, 

328. Cf. No. 66 and note. 

329. Cf. No. 91. 

NOTES. 199 


330. Cf. Nos. 220, 358 and noies. In the dialogue Del 

Reggimento di Firenze, Op. Ined. ii. 71, Bernardo 
del Nero is made to say: "Per6 non veggo 
che si possa biasimare obi cerca conservare le 
facultii e il grado suo, intrattenendosi con lo 
Stato stretto, poich^ altro rimedio non vi ^ ; e se 
nel resto vive modestamente ed h sempre uomo 
da bene, non solo per questo non viene oflfendere 
la patria, ma piii presto gli fa beneficio ; percb^ 
trovandosi in qualche fede con chi regge, gli viene 
occasione coi consigli e con le opere di favorire 
molti beni-e disfavorire molti mall; e nessuna 
cosa potrebbe far peggio alia c\Xik cbe il non 
essere intomo al tiranno altro che uomini tristi." 

331. It seems probable that this Reflection was originally 

written shortly before the expedition sent by Pope 
Clement against Siena in June 1526, the defeat of 
which, on the 25th July, is related by Francesco 
Vettori in a letter to Machiavelli dated 7th August 
of that year. Intrigues on the part of the Pope 
with Sienese exiles had apparently been going on 
for some time before this attempt was made. As 
to the *' innate hatred" of the Sienese for the 
Florentines, and for an account of their govern- 
ment, seeVarchi, StoriaFiorentina, T. i. 407-414. 

332. As to the long-continued hostility of the Papal 

Government towards the Dukedom of Ferrara, 
see Guicciardini, 1st, d Italia ^ Book xvi. (vol. iv. 
pp. 17-20). The terms of the Reflection seem 
to point rather to the attempt of Pope Julius 
II. in 1510, than to the subsequent eflbrts of 
Leo X. in 1521, or the designs of Clement 
VII. in 1525, since both of the last-named Popes 
might in a sense be said to be already masters 
of Tuscany. As late as 1528, Cement, accord- 
ing to Muratori {Anna/id Italia), was hatching 

aoD NOTES. * 

plots to deprive Duke Alfonso of his possessions, 
" or do worse by him if possible." 
534. Similar advice is put into the mouth of Bernardo 
del Nero in the Dialogue Del Re^mento di 
Firtnm, Op. Ined. ii. aai-asa. Machiavelli. 
DtKoni, L 5fl, defends Soderini for not taking: 
advice of the kind. See also 1st, a Italia, Book 
xi. (vol. iii pp. do-33). where the arguments for 
and against permitting the return of the Medici 
are discussed. 

335. Cf. No. 903. 

336. CC No. 76 and note, 

337. Cf. No. 6a 

338. Cf. Na 69. 

339. Cf. No. 78 and note. According to Nardi, Istoria 

di Firenu (ed. Le Monnier), vol. il p. 61, Pope 
Clement, when Cardinal de' Medici, would often 
cite the saying of Piero Soderini : '* Non essere 
sapiente se non il paziente, n^ essere paziente se 
non il sapiente." 

34a Cf. No. 43. 

341. Cf. No. 46 and note, "Capo e fondamento di 
tutto il bene k I'avere nome e opintone di seventh, " 
^c-'Istrugioni delle cose di Romagna, Op. Ined. 

▼»"'. 393- 
343. Cf. No. 37a. Sec also Del R^gimento di Firenu, 
Op. Ined. ii. 219-390: "Se tu tagli uno capo 
aocora che spenga lui, £u in luogo suo maU 
content! molti ; vk solo si fa inimid i suoi, ma 
ancora dispiaoe poi alia fine a tutti gli uomini 
di mexzo. Se mandi uno in esilio^ accresci il 
numero di qu^E che sempre cercano muovere 
omori contro alia citti/' &c. 

343. Ct Nos. 6, 117, 257. 

344. Cf. Na 67. 

345. Cf. Na 140. 



346. Cf. No. 28. 

347. Cf. No. 95 and nofe, 

348 -349. Cf. Nos. 52-53 and nole, Msichisivellit Principe, 
cap. 3, lays it down as a general rule, which 
never or rarely errs, " Che chi h cagione che uno 
diventi potente» rovina: perch^ quella potenza 
h causata da colui o con industria o con forza ; 
e I'ana e I'altra di queste due h sospetta a chi e 
divenuto potente." Commines, Memoires, iii. 
12, relates a curious conversation which he had 
with King Louis XL on this subject. 

350. Cf. No. 129. 

351. Cf. No. 144 and noU, 

352. Cf. No. 86, and see Bacon, Advancement of 

Learning. "Next to the well understanding 
and discerning of a man's self, there followeth 
the well opening and revealing a man's self; 
wherein we see nothing more usual than for 
the more able man to make the less show. . . . 
Ostentation, though it be to the first degree of 
vanity, seemeth to me rather a vice in manners 
than in policy." 

353. Cf. No. 29 and note. 

354. Cf. No. 212 and note. In the Dialogue Del Reggi- 

mento di Firenu, Op. Ined. iL 17-18, Guicciar- 
dini's Datber Piero is made to say : •* Potrei dire 
secondo i filosofi che il govemo di uno quando 6 
buono h il migltOTe di tutti ; ma quando h cattivo 
h il peggiore. Credo ancora che piti spesso si 
abbatta a essere cattivo il govemo di uno che 
queUo di molti, perch6 ha piii Itcenca e manco 
ostaculi. Per6 vorrei che i filosofi mi avessino 
dichiarato questo paaso . . . quale fussi migliore 
sorte di una citt4 che nasoessi ora, e che si avessi 
a oidiiiare il govemo soo, o che fiuai ordinata 
in uno govemo di uno, o in govemo di molti." 

303 NOTES, 


*' Especially where it passes by inkeritatux^" See 
MaciuaveUi, Discorsi, L ii, where he cites Dante» 
Pttrg. vlL 121-X23. 

355. Cf. No. 165. 

3Sd Cf. Na 94. 

357. Omitted by CorbinelU, perhaps as reflecting on the 


358. Cf. Nos. 390, 330 and notes, " Still / maintain 

that you ought not for this reason" See the 
Meditation in the Ricordi AutoHogrq/ici, Op. 
Ined. X. xao: "Non voglio gi& durare lafatica 
medesima in persnaderti che il sospetto che ha 
il popolo di te per reputarti amico de' Medici, 
passer& ; e che venA tempo, forse pid presto che 
ta non credi, che tu sarai in buono concetto e 
opinione. . . . Credo bene, anzi tengo per certo, 
che se la citt^ ai^ vita e non affoghi in questa 
tempesta grande che ora si mostra, non passer^, 
molto tempo che non solo non sarai rifiutato, 
ma che agli nomini parrk forse avere fetto per- 
dita di non si essere valuti in tempi tanto strani 
della virtii ed esperienza tua." 

359. Cf. Nos. 4, 291. 

360. Cf. No. 85. The Reflection supplies the date at 

which it was originally vrritten, namely, the 3nl 
February 1523 Florentine, 1524 common style, 
at which time Guicciardini was governing the 
Romagna for Pope Clement • ' Yet have not had 
the same success in commerce" An entry in the 
Ricordi Autobiograjici, Op. Ined. x. 79, informs 
us that on the 20th November 1509 Guicciardini 
received from his father-in-law, Alamanni Salviati, 
the balance of his wife's dower, which he expended 
partly in the purchase of clothes for her and for 
himself, and partly in the purchase of furniture 
for his new house. A sum of fiorini d'oro 

NOTES. 203 

which remained over, was invested in the name ^ 
Piero, his father, " nella bottega nostra delta seta, « 
che canta in name di Jacopo miofratello, Lorenzo 
di Bernardo Segni, e Compagnia." It may be 
surmised that Guicciardini himself had an interest 
in this firm, and that it was not prospering at 
the time he wrote this Reflection. The advice 
in Reflection No. 280 as to the expediency of 
employing a good lawyer, and the remarks in 
Nos. 55, 278, and 325 on the subject of mercan- 
tile bankruptcy, may have been suggested by the 
author's own experience. 

361. Corbinelli says that this Reflection is borrowed from 


362. Cf. No. 34 and note, "For roe measure them 

with reference to our lives, which are brief, not 
to their term^ which is long.'* Guicciardini here 
follows Dante : — 

•' Le vostre cose tutte hanno lor morte 

SI come voi ; ma celasi in alcuna, 

Che dura molto, e le vite son corte." 

Parad, xvi. 79-81. 

363. Cf. No. 158 and note, 

364. Cf. Na 80. 

365. Cf. No. 109 and note, "And this is the reason 

•why the wise men and philosophers of antiquity" 
6v. So Bernardo del Nero in the Dialogue Del 
Reggimento di Firenge, Op. Ined. ii 74: "E 
per6 mi ha detto Messer Marsilio [Ficino], da 
chi io ho pure imparato alcuna volta qualche 
cosa, che Platone quando fece quello libro che 
parla delle republiche, lo intitol6 dalla Giustixia, 
volendo roostrare che era il fine principale che si 
aveva a cercare." 

366. Cf. No. 89. 

367. Cf. No. 57. 

ao4 NOTES. 


Z^'i, CL No. 176. 

f /a But tee Na 90, where the courtier is wamod not to 
be too officious, 

371. See Lizjy, Book xxiv. 35. '* On tke extinction 

€f a tyrant" 6*^. Compare Del Reggimento di 
FirenUt Op. Ined. il 215: "Voltansi dunque 
tutti i malcontenti dello Stato cbe regge al tiranno 
vecchio ; e se ^ mancato hd, alle sue reliquie . . . 
percb^ si spera pid facilmente potere riducere 
una tirannide^ouno dominio veccbio che farne 
ono di Duovo." 

372. Cf. No. 342 and noti. 

373. Cf. No. 216 and note, 

374. Cf. No. 108. 

376. Cf. Na 38 and note. 

377. Compare Del Reggimento di Firenze^ Op. Ined. ii. 

157 : " Nessuno ha a Firenze tanti fondamenti che, 
se non h della linea di Cosimo, possa sperare di 
diventare capo ; e chi aspira a questo, bisog^a 
che ami la libertii e vivore populare, col mezzo 
del quale pu6 solo diventare capo con autorit^ 

378. Cf. No. I2X. Guicciardini here m^ntains the 

opinion, challenged by Machiavelli, Principe, 
cap. 9, " Che chi fonda in sul popolo, fonda in 
sul fango." 

379. As to the " Adomi and Fregosi cf Genoa,'' see 

Ist, dltalia^ Book vii. (vol. ii. pp. 112-113). 
** Bernardo Rucellai" Some account of the 
character and fortunes of this distinguished 
schokuTris given by Guicciardini in the Storia 
Pionntina^ Op. Ined. iii. 326-328. 

38a Cf. No. 19. 

381. See the character of Pope Julius in the 1st, d Italia, 
Book n. (vol iii. p. 53). As to Pope Clement, 
see No. 59 and note. In the 1st, d Italia, 

NOTES. 205 


Book xvi. (voL iv. pp. 67-69), the character of 
Clement is contrasted with that of Leo X. 

383. Guicciardini in his Scoria Futrentina, cap. iv. Op. 

Ined. iii. 34, observes tiiat the family of the 
Pazzi, although one of the richest and most 
important in Florence, had at no time any great 
political influence; "per essere tenuti troppo 
superbi e altieri ; la quale cosa gli uomini in una 
cittii libera non possono comportare." 

384. Cf. No. 56. 

385. Cf. No. 55. 

386. Cf. No. 45 and note. 

387. Cf. No. 119. 

388. Cf. No. 106 and note. 

389. Guicciardini here combats the opinion of Macbia- 

velli, Discorsi, i. 29, that a people is more grate- 
ful than a prince. The subject is also handled 
in the Considerazioni sui Discorsi del Machia- 
velli, Op. Ined. i. 43 ; and see No. 378 and note. 

390. Cf. Nos. II, 265. 

391. Cf. No. 54. 

392. Cf. No. 23 and note. 

393. Cf. No. 115 and note. 

In an autograph entry inserted between Re- 
flections Nos. 393 and 394, Guicciardini indicates 
that the transcription, commenced at the be^n- 
ning of the year 1528 from earlier note-books, 
had been interrupted, and that the Reflections 
which follow were begun to be added in April 
ot that year. 

394. Cf. No. 182. 

395. Cf. No. 162. 

206 NOTES. 


396. Cf. N08. 4a, 217. 

397. Cf. No. x88. 

398. ** It is of ancient wont in Florence," 6v. As 

had been noted by Dante : — 
" E se ben ti ricorda, e vedi lume, 

Vedrai te somigliante a quella inferma 
Che non pu6 trovar posa in su le piume, 
Ma con dar volta suo dolore scherma." 
Purg. vl 148-15 1. 

399. Cf. No. 22 and note, 
40Z. Cf. No. 254 and note, 

402. Cf. No. 21 and note, 

403, •* O ingenia magis acria" 6*^. Cited from letter of 

Petrarch to Boccaccio. Guicciardini substitutes 
acria for cruda, the word used by Petrarch. 

The edition of Guicciardini's Istoria d Italia from 
which the passages cited in these notes are taken, is 
that purporting to have been printed at Freiburg (but 
which was, in fact, printed in Florence), in the years 
1775-1776, in four volumes quarto. 

Other works of the author are cited from the Opere 
Inedite, published at Florence in ten volumes octavo, 
in the years 1857-1867, by Count Piero and Count 
Luigi Guicciardini, under the editorship of Signor Giu- 
seppe Canestrini. 



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